20 years of Ramna bombing: all eyes are on the High Court

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Current archive photo after the explosion in Ramna Batamul on April 14, 2001Courtesy

Appeal hearings of seven convicted Huji-B activists to begin next month

It took 13 years to deliver the verdict in the much-talked-about Ramna Batamul bombing case. Three more years passed for hearings on convicted appeals, only to be postponed for another four years to begin.

Finally, on May 30, the High Court is due to hear appeals from the seven militants of the banned militant group Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami (Huji-B).

Top Huji-B leader Mufti Abdul Hannan and seven others sentenced to death for their involvement in the horrific attack that killed 10 and injured 50 others during traditional Pahela Baishakh celebrations at the park Ramna from Dhaka in 2001. Mufti Hannan was executed in another case in 2017.

Family members of the victims and cultural activists seeking justice have long waited for the verdict to be implemented. But the slowness of the justice process has always discouraged them.

Two cases were filed for the attack – one for murder and the other for using explosives – with the Ramna police station. A Dhaka Magistrates’ Court is dealing with the case filed under the Explosive Substances Act.

The CID investigated the cases and lodged complaints in both cases against 14 activists, including Mufti Hannan, on November 30, 2008.

Thirteen years after the attack, a Dhaka court on 23 June 2014 sentenced eight activists, including Mufti Hannan, to death and six others to life imprisonment in the murder case.

The other seven are Arif Hasan Sumon, Maulana Akbar Hossain, Maulana Tajuddin, Hafez Jahangir Alam Badal, Maulana Abu Bakar, Mufti Shafikur Rahman and Mufti Abdul Hai. Among them, Sumon, Jewel, Abu Taher, Rauf and Akbar are behind bars while two others are still at large.

The six imprisoned activists are Shahadat Ullah Jewel, Hafez Maulana Abu Taher, Maulana Abdur Rauf, Maulana Sabbir Hossain, Maulana Yahiya and Maulana Shawkat Osman alias Sheikh Farid.

Eight convicts filed separate appeals with the High Court to challenge the verdict of the lower court. The hearing was scheduled to start on January 17, 2017, but it was removed from the list of cases due to a reconstitution of the judiciary.

Usually, case documents and judgments reach the High Court as lower court death references within seven days. The appeal hearing in the Supreme Court may take a few months before the court delivers its verdict of execution.

Now the case is awaiting a remand hearing before Judge Krishna Debnath and Judge ASM Abdul Mobin.

Speaking to Dhaka Tribune yesterday, Deputy Attorney General Shahin Ahmed Khan hoped the judiciary would begin hearings on May 30 according to the list of cases.

Meanwhile, the trial in the explosives case has been slow due to the non-appearance of witnesses and the prosecution’s alleged negligence.

The Dhaka Speedy-1 Magistrates’ Court recorded the depositions of 55 prosecution witnesses, out of 84 since October 1, 2012.

Abu Abdullah Bhuiyan, the court’s special prosecutor, hoped the trial would be over soon. “The court has started recording the investigator’s testimony and will set a date for the verdict once the testimony is completed,” he told Dhaka Tribune.


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