B`deshi probe into 2004 weapons smuggling case gets extension

Last Updated: Sunday, July 25, 2010 - 20:42

Dhaka: A Bangladeshi court on Sunday granted
extension for the ninth time in a key probe into the 2004 abortive smuggling of weapons, believed to be meant for the ULFA militants in Assam.

Metropolitan Session Judge Enamul Haque Bhuiyan
extended till September 26 the probe into the country?s 2004
biggest ever weapon haul, believed to be meant for the banned
separatist group United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), court
officials said.

Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officials said
the extra time was needed to quiz more people, including
several navy officers, a former secretary and a former
Director General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI) in view of some
"astounding findings" during the probe.

The police seized the consignment of 10 truckloads of
weapons and ammunition, which included over 27,000 grenades,
150 rocket launchers, over 11 lakh ammunitions and 1,100 sub
machine guns, from the state-owned Chittagong Urea Fertiliser
Company Ltd (CUFL) jetty in Chittagong on the night of April 1
2004, widely believed for the Indian insurgent group ULFA.

The extension for the probe came days after the
state-run BSS news agency reported that they CID was set to
indict a detained controversial former interior minister
Lutfuzzaman Babar of main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist
Party (BNP) as a major accused in the arms haul.

"We have found crucial evidence against several high-profile people during the process of extended investigations... we have also found clues to his (Babar`s)
involvement in the weapon haul," a senior police officer familiar with the probe told BSS last week.

He said several high-profile suspects, including
former Home Secretary Omar Faruque, accused the interior
minister. The interior minister was already in jail in
connection with several other criminal and graft charges.

The interim government in 2008 ordered the
reinvestigation into the case amid allegations that there was
a deliberate attempt on the part of the BNP-led government to
suppress facts to weaken the case.

CID, which was tasked to reinvestigate the case,
subsequently obtained extension.

The reinvestigation yielded the arrest of several
high-profile intelligence officials, including two former
generals, who had headed the apex National Security
Intelligence (NSI). It was found that the weapons were
manufactured at China North Industries Corporation or Norinco.

Bangladeshi national Hafizur Rahman, who was charged
with carrying the weapons meant for the banned militant group,
named several stalwarts in the earlier BNP-led government
alongside administrative and intelligence officials.

"We have so far arrested nearly a dozen people
including ex-major general Rezzakul Haidar Chowdhury and
ex-brigadier general Abdur Rahim... we are now looking for
(absconding) ULFA leader Paresh Barua," Muniruzzaman
Chowdhury, Senior Assistant Superintendent of CID said.

According to officials, Barua monitored the abortive
smuggling process in connivance with the influential people in
Bangladesh.

PTI



First Published: Sunday, July 25, 2010 - 20:42

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