It appears increasingly unlikely that the absconding killers of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his family will ever be returned to the country.
Of the six fugitives – Noor Chowdhury, M Rashed Chowdhury, Khandkar Abdur Rashid, Shariful Haque Dalim, Moslehuddin Khan and Abdul Mazed – the location of only two have been confirmed so far, Law Minister Anisul Haque said at an event in the city on Sunday.
Noor is currently living in Canada, and Rashed is in the US.
Sources say there is speculation that Moslehuddin may be hiding in the US as well, but there is no official confirmation.
Anisul said it was “only a matter of time” before the killers were brought back and their death sentences were implemented.
That statement, however, rings hollow.
The repatriation process has seen little progress since the killers were sentenced to death in absentia in 1998, and the Supreme Court upheld the death sentences rejecting all the appeals in the case in 2009.
Self-confessed Bangabandhu killer M Rashed Chowdhury fled to the US and was granted political asylum. He is currently living in California.
“The Bangladesh government tried to get Rashed repatriated from the US before his asylum status was confirmed, but the appeal was revoked by the US government,” said a senior official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on condition of anonymity.
Washington officially informed Dhaka of Rashed’s status in 2015.
Noor’s status has yet to be settled; he has not been granted asylum by Canada yet, but he will not be deported either because of a Canadian law that prevents the extradition of people on death row.
“As Bangladesh does not have any extradition treaty with the US or Canada, the repatriation process will be very complicated,” the Foreign Ministry official added.
On June 15, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal told parliament that the government had engaged two law firms in the US and Canada to get the extradition process of the convicted killers started.
“As part of the legal procedure to extradite the fugitive killers, we have taken the initiative to confiscate their non-movable properties and freeze their bank accounts,” he said in response to a query from treasury bench member M Shafiqul Islam.
Kamal further said the government formed a task force led by the law minister to facilitate the repatriations on March 28, 2010.
After the government retained power in 2014, the task force was reformed and has been working to locate the killers along with the Interpol.
However, the Foreign Ministry official further said the government does not have specific information regarding the whereabouts of Dalim and Rashid.
Unspecified sources have said Rashid has businesses in Libya and Kenya. But the Kenyan government has not provided any specific information.
The New Delhi government, meanwhile, has confirmed that Abdul Mazed and Moslehuddin are not in India.
Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the first president of independent Bangladesh, was assassinated along with most of his family members in Dhaka in the early hours of August 15, 1975.
Beside the six fugitive killers, six others were sentenced to death in the case: Aziz Pasha, Syed Farooq Rahman, Sultan Shahriar Rashid Khan, Mohiuddin Ahmed, Bazlul Huda and AKM Mohiuddin Ahmed.
Among them, Aziz Pasha died of natural causes in Zimbabwe – it is not confirmed when.
Farooq, Shahriar, Mohiuddin, Bazlul and AKM Mohuiddin were hanged on January 28, 2010.