In December 2015, the Appellate Division commuted his death sentence to life imprisonment
Tofael Ahmed Joseph, a notorious criminal who rose to infamy in the 1990s, has been freed on presidential clemency.
He walked out of jail on Sunday secretly, avoiding the media. He then crossed into India for his ultimate destination to the United States.
“We have released the convict [Joseph] after getting an order on his release on Sunday,” Md Jahangir Kabir, superintendent of Dhaka Central Jail in Keraniganj, told journalists.
Asked, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal told reporters yesterday that Joseph had applied for presidential clemency on “medical grounds” and the president granted his plea.
“He was sentenced to life imprisonment by a court and has served 20 years behind bars. He applied to the president for his mercy following due procedures.”
The minister also claimed that the convict had one or one-and-a-half years of his sentence left to serve in jail. After he appealed for mercy, the president granted his appeal and allowed him to travel abroad for treatment on condition that he would pay the fines the court concerned slapped on him, Asaduzzaman added.
The notorious criminal was sentenced to death by a Dhaka court in 2004 for killing a Freedom Party leader, Mostafa. The High Court Division of the Supreme Court upheld the trial court’s verdict.
However, in December 2015, the Appellate Division commuted his death sentence to life imprisonment.
According to jail sources, prison authorities inform the Home Ministry about convicts who have already passed over 20 years in prison.
They said Joseph's mother, Renuja Begum, filed the mercy petition in 2016 on his behalf, and after the plea was granted, his family took necessary measures to get him released from jail.
At the time of his arrest, he was accused in at least 11 cases filed with different police stations in Dhaka on charges of terrorist activities, extortion, murders and carrying illegal weapons.
Two criminal squads – Seven Star Group and Five Star Group – used to control the criminal world of Dhaka at the time.
His father, Wadud Ahmed, was an Air Force officer, while his brother, Lt Gen Ahmed, served as the director general of Border Guard Bangladesh between 2012 and 2016.
The youngest among five siblings, Joseph started his career as a grassroots-level political leader in the '90s with help of his brother, Haris Ahmed.
Haris was a Jatiya Party leader. He later joined Juba League, the youth wing of the ruling Awami League, and was a counselor of ward no 44 in Dhaka. Joseph reportedly used to lead Haris’ armed gangs.
Haris, who was also on the list of top criminals, is believed to be hiding in India. Another brother, Sayed Ahmed Tipu, was gunned down by criminals in the '90s.
Joseph once used to introduce himself as a leader of the Mohammadpur unit of Bangladesh Chhatra League, but he did not hold any post in the Awami League student body.
He drew media attention after a long time as he stayed at a city hospital for 20 months despite having no major physical problems. He was, however, taken back to the prison amid widespread criticism from different quarters.
He was arrested from Narayanganj in 2005 after a bounty was declared against 23 top criminals by the government in 2004.