2004 grenade attack: Ex-Bangladesh minister quizzed in police custody

Bangladeshi investigators have quizzed a former BNP minister for his suspected links to the 2004 grenade attack on PM Sheikh Hasina.

Dhaka: Bangladeshi investigators on Friday quizzed a former BNP minister for his suspected links to the 2004 grenade attack on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, a day after the apex court overturned a High Court order barring him to be remanded in police custody.
"Babar has been remanded in our custody for five days for interrogation," a senior Criminal Investigation Department (CID), tasked with the reinvestigation of the August 21, 2004 attack on an Awami League rally, said.

Lutfuzzaman Babar was the junior minister for home in ex-premier Khaleda Zia`s Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) government.

Babar was brought to the CID head office at Malibagh area under heavy security escort from the suburban Kashimpur Jail in line with the yesterday`s Appellate Division order secured by the prosecution, CID officials said.

The apex court directive was referred last evening to the metropolitan magistrate, which originally ordered the ex-minister to be remanded in police custody for five days on Wednesday.

Magistrate Ehsanul Haque had rejected a plea by Babar`s lawyers for further hearing on the remand prayer tomorrow after Special Prosecutor Sayed Rezaur Rahman read out the fax copy of the apex court order. The same court on Wednesday granted the CID five days to interrogate him in their custody against a police prayer for 10 days following a brief hearing.

The ex-minister`s lawyers on the same day obtained a High Court order asking police to interrogate him at the jail gate instead of the police custody.

Babar is currently serving 17 years of imprisonment on another weapon related criminal charge.

Last week, police said they suspected Babar as the mastermind of the deadly attack while a leading newspaper had published an investigative report saying several other influential BNP leaders were involved in the plot.

CID sources said they planned to organise a face to face sitting between Babar and three former investigators of the case to get a clearer picture of their roles at that time.

The investigating agency had earlier said they had vital information and evidence regarding Babar`s involvement in the grenade attack from confessional statements of some other suspects.

Of the 21 accused, 14 Harkatul Jihad al Islami (HuJI) operatives including its chief Mufty Hannan and ex-deputy minister of the BNP government Abdus Salam Pintu are now in jail, while the rest eight others are still absconding.

Bureau Report