Bangladesh`s ex-junior home minister denied bail

A Bangladeshi court has denied bail to a controversial former minister as investigations were underway against his suspected links to a 2004 weapon haul with links to India`s separatist ULFA.

Dhaka: A Bangladeshi court has denied
bail to a controversial former minister as investigations were
underway against his suspected links to a 2004 weapon haul
with links to India`s separatist ULFA.

Officials and reports said former state minister
Lutfuzzaman Babar was denied bail by a court in southeastern
port city of Chittagong as his lawyers sought his temporary
release on expiry of a five-day remand in police custody
during which he was quizzed for his suspected involvement in
the 2004 arms haul.

An influential member of former prime minister Khaleda
Zia`s past Bangladesh Nationalist party (BNP)-led four party
government, Babar is a key suspect in the arms haul case where
10 truck loads of weapon, believed to be destined to United
Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) hideouts in northeastern
India.

Metropolitan magistrate Hussain Muhammad Fazlul
Bari, however, asked officials concerned to ensure Babar`s
proper treatment under the jail code as his lawyers said their
client was "very sick" as police escorted him to the court
complex at about 10.30 pm, hours after the normal office
hours, on expiry of the remand period.

Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of police,
which was entrusted with the charge of an extended
investigation into the case, earlier hinted that they found
clues of several stalwarts of the past BNP regime including
Zia?s now expatriate elder son and party`s senior vice
chairman Tarique Rahman too were involved in the abortive
weapon smuggling attempt.

An influential member of former prime minister Khaleda
Zia`s past Bangladesh Nationalist party (BNP)-led four party
government, Babar is a key suspect in the arms haul case where
10 truck loads of weapon, believed to be destined to United
Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) hideouts in northeastern
India.

Metropolitan magistrate Hussain Muhammad Fazlul
Bari, however, asked officials concerned to ensure Babar`s
proper treatment under the jail code as his lawyers said their
client was "very sick" as police escorted him to the court
complex at about 10.30 pm, hours after the normal office
hours, on expiry of the remand period.

Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of police,
which was entrusted with the charge of an extended
investigation into the case, earlier hinted that they found
clues of several stalwarts of the past BNP regime including
Zia?s now expatriate elder son and party`s senior vice
chairman Tarique Rahman too were involved in the abortive
weapon smuggling attempt.

Despite his exposure to several other criminal and
graft charges, Rahman, however, was yet to be named in the
case but earlier media reports he had meetings with Mafia boss
Dawood Ibrahim at least twice in connection with the weapon
trading.

The Chitagong Court on October 3 ordered Babar to be
"shown arrested" for his suspected links to the country`s
biggest ever arms haul as he was already in prison on several
other charges since his arrest nearly three years ago under
emergency rules during the past military-backed interim
government.

The court placed him on the five-day remand, when a
tough joint team of security and intelligence agencies called
Task Force Interrogation (TFI) cell in Dhaka.

The consignment of 10 truckloads of weapons was seized
in April 2004 despite suspected efforts of certain
"influential quarters" for its safe passage to United
Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) hideouts in northeastern India
through Chittagong, but the case was shelved for years after
the apparently "accidental" seizure.

PTI