Trial of 156 cases of ‘militants’ halted

The trial process of 156 cases in relation to ‘militant activities’ remains halted as plaintiffs, investigating officers and witnesses of the cases from members of the police are not turning up in the courts.

The courts are not being able to begin the proceedings of 138 cases filed under the anti-terrorism act for lack of government approval. The proceedings of four more cases remained suspended due to the stay order by the High Court.

Sources concerned said, arrest warrants were issued against 333 members of the police, who high courtare also witnesses in 62 out of 156 cases. Even after that, the police witnesses are not appearing in the court to give their depositions.

When contacted, the home minister, Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal, told Prothom Alo that legal action would be taken against the members of the police who are not appearing in the court to give depositions.

It was found in a scrutiny of documents that Gulshan, Khilkhet, Sutrapur and Paltan police stations filed five cases against 35 ‘members of Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB)’- two in 2005 and one in 2009.

After framing charge sheets, the court began the trial but none of the plaintiffs, investigating officers and witnesses-all members of the police -appeared in court to take part in the legal proceedings.

The additional metropolitan sessions judge court framed charge sheet against seven ‘JMB members’ on 11 August in 2009 in a case of Paltan police station. Four of the accused are now in jail, one is freed on bail and the remaining two are absconding.

The four accused, who are now behind bars, were produced before the court 67 times, but the plaintiff of the case and Paltan police station’s assistant sub-inspector, Maznu Mia, and case’s investigating officer and then a DB inspector Abdur Razzak did not turn up in the court to submit their depositions.

The court finally issued warrant of arrest against these two police officials and 23 others for not appearing in the court.

Gulshan police station’s sub-inspector Mir Zahedul Haque filed a case with the police station against five ‘JMB men’ in 2005 and the charge sheet was framed in the case on 14 May 2009.

The case is now under trial in the court of Dhaka’s second additional metropolitan sessions judge.

The accused in the case were produced in the court 37 times in the last six years, but none of the 37 witnesses, the plaintiff and four investigating officers of the case turned up in the court. The arrest warrant was also issued against these police officials.

Court sources said 156 cases undergoing trial at Dhaka Metropolitan and 23 districts’ courts are also facing the same fate.

When approached, public prosecutor Abdullah Abu said it is entirely police responsibility to produce witnesses before the court. In most of the cases in connection with militancy, even the police are not submitting their depositions before the court. Other witnesses are also not being produced; therefore, the cases are being delayed for long time.

Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP)’s deputy commissioner for prosecution AHM Qamaruzzaman told Prothom Alo, “We follow all the warrants of the courts and instructions are sent to concerned offices.”

138 cases waiting for approval

Approval is required from the home ministry for taking anti-terrorism cases into cognizance. So far, charge sheets were submitted before the courts in connection of 138 militancy cases, but none was approved by the ministry as yet.

Home minister Asaduzzaman Khan told Prothom Alo that they were giving approval in cases under the anti-terrorism act. Approval would be given quickly after scrutinising necessary documents.

The High Court’s stay order

The accused in eight such cases have submitted writ petition before the High Court saying that the cases did not obtain approval from the home ministry. The High Court has put stay order and asked to halt judicial proceedings.

Prosecution, however, did not take any action to lift the stay orders.

Attorney general Mahbubey Alam told Prothom Alo that metropolitan public prosecutor did not inform him that judicial proceedings were stopped due to stay orders. “I would certainly take actions if cases’ related documents were sent to me,” he added.

Law minister Anisul Huq said they would not tolerate any kind of negligence from prosecutors in cases related to militancy. Action would be taken against the concerned people.

-Prothom Alo