Dhaka to confiscate convicts' properties

Bangladesh on Wednesday decided to confiscate properties of six convicted fugitive ex-army officers who were sentenced to death for the assassination of the country’s founding father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman along with most of his family members in a coup in 1975.

“They did not appear before the court during the trial and are now hiding abroad to evade the justice for a long time. Under the law of the land their properties will now have to be confiscated,” law minister Shafique Ahmed said after emerging from a meeting of a high-level task force constituted to bring back the six convicts.

However, Ahmed said the order for the confiscation was expected to be issued by a court on the basis of a government petition citing the relevant law and “we today decided to enforce the law (for the seizure)”.

Two of the convicts - sacked lieutenant colonels Nur Chwdhury and Rashed Chowdhury - were earlier tracked down in Canada and the United States while officials said at least two of the rests - sacked army risalder Moslemuddin and sacked captain Abdul Majed - were believed to be hiding in India.

They said whereabouts of the one of the masterminds lieutenant colonels Abdur Rashid and Shariful Huq Dalim were still unclear while a seventh fugitive convict ex-lieutenant colonel Aziz Pasha died in Zimbabwe earlier.

Ahmed said that legal efforts were underway to bring back the two fugitives from Canada and the US while Canadian authorities already seized Nur Chowdhury’s passport and handed it over to Bangladesh embassy there. He is fighting a legal battle to stay back there.

A total of 28 people including Rahman’s wife Begum Fazilattunesa, three sons including 10-year-old Russel were killed in the putsch that also toppled Bangladesh’s post independence Awami League government.

His elder daughter, incumbent Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, and her younger sister Sheikh Rehana survived the coup as they were abroad at that time.  Five of the 1975 coup leaders were hanged nearly three years ago while six were on the run after a protracted trial process which too began 11 years after the carnage when Awami League came to power in 1996.

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