The main legal effort in the US and Canada is being carried out by reputed New York-based law firm Skadden for the past two years. The Bangladesh Law Ministry is looking after this issue, ministry sources said.
Another task force at the Home Ministry is also monitoring the extradition efforts. Following recent initiatives by the cell, the inspector general of police issued an arrest warrant through Interpol against Risalder Moslehuddin, one of the fugitive killers who is believed to be residing in Germany.
The other five absconding killers are Khandaker Abdur Rashid – a dismissed lieutenant colonel, Shariful Haque Dalim – a relieved lieutenant colonel, Lt Col (Retd) SHMB Noor Chowdhury, Lt Col (Retd) AM Rashed Chowdhury, and Captain Abdul Mazed.
In January 2010, five of Bangabandhu's killers – Syed Farooq Rahman, Sultan Shahriar Rashid Khan, Bazlul Huda, AKM Mohiuddin Ahmed and Mohiuddin Ahmed – were hanged for their crime. Another fugitive convict Aziz Pasha died in Zimbabwe in 2001.
In June 2007, AKM Mohiuddin was successfully extradited to Bangladesh from the United States, following a series of failed attempts by him to gain asylum or permanent residency there.
In a recent comment to media, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said: "I have learnt that among three of the fugitive convicts in Bangabandhu murder case – Lt Col (Retd) SHMB Noor Chowdhury is living in Canada, Rashed Chowdhury in the US and Risaldar Moslehuddin Khan in Germany."
The minister said diplomatic and legal efforts were already in place to extradite the fugitives from the US and Canada, but added that their exact locations were still unknown. However, security and intelligence activities have been strengthened to trace them, he said.
Law Minister Anisul Huq told the Dhaka Tribune: “We have definitely progressed in bringing back Bangabandhu's killers from aboard in terms of a legal point of view. But I do not want to publicise the matter.
“We have confirmed the location of Noor Chowdhury and Rashed Chowdhury in Canada and the US respectively, but we have no information about four other Bangabandhu fugitive killers,” he said.
However, Home Ministry sources told the Dhaka Tribune that Khandaker Abdur Rashid is believed to be currently living in Pakistan or Libya, Dalim in Pakistan, and Abdul Mazed in Senegal.
Senior Home Secretary Dr Md Mozammel Haque Khan said: “We will deploy intelligence agencies for locating the fugitive killers. If the situation arises, we will arrange for their extradition.”
It is difficult to extradite the fugitives as many of them were rewarded with government services and patronised by other Bangladeshis, said Mozammel, who is a member of the task force to bring back Bangabandhu's killers.
Other obstacles for extradition included the senility of the killers and the fact that they enjoyed financial support from foreign sources, he added.
According to Home Ministry sources, there was an opportunity to bring back Noor Chowdhury in 2006 from Canada when his appeal for political asylum was cancelled and his Bangladeshi passport seized.
At the time, the Canadian government sent a letter for the extradition of Noor, but the then government reportedly did not take any initiative to bring him back.
In 2009, the Supreme Court of Bangladesh upheld a High Court verdict that handed down death sentence to 12 men for killing Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his family on August 15, 1975.
Five of them were executed in January 2010 while another fugitive had died earlier.
But the search for six more fugitives continues, 41 years after the heinous murders.