Covid shutdown behind delay in case proceedings, says public prosecutor
The trial in the much-talked about murder of Italian aid worker Cesare Tavella in the capital’s Gulshan Diplomatic Zone six years ago may end by this year, a public prosecutor has said.
So far, 40 out of 71 prosecution witnesses have testified before the court in the case.
On September 22, the 40th witnesses gave depositions in court. Later the judge fixed October 14 for the next hearing.
Tavella, 50, at the time a project manager of Profitable Opportunities for Food Security (Proofs), a project of the Netherlands-based organization ICCO Cooperation, was gunned down by unidentified assailants on the pavement of Road 90 in Gulshan-2 on September 28, 2015.
After the murder, the Middle East-based Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, which the government dismissed.
Following this, a new wing of banned militant group Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) was found involved in over two dozen fatal attacks carried out against religious minorities and foreigners, including the grisly attack on Holey Artisan Bakery in the capital.
Additional Public Prosecutor Taposh Kumar Paul told Dhaka Tribune: “The trial was supposed to be completed early this year. But it was delayed as the court remained shut for a long time due to the Covid-19 pandemic.”
He said that the trial was at the final stage and that it would likely be completed within this year.
What the case says
Earlier, a Dhaka court started the trial after framing charges on October 25, 2016 against seven accused, including BNP leader and former ward councilor MA Qaium and his brother MA Matin in the case.
The five other accused are Tamjid Ahmed alias Rubel, Russel Chowdhury, Minhajul Arefin alias Bhaigna Russel, Sakhawat Hossain and Bhangari Sohel.
Of the accused, Qaium and Sohel are on the run and Matin is now out on bail, while the rest of the accused are now behind bars.
On June 28, 2016, Detective Branch (DB) of police Inspector Golam Rabbani, the investigation officer of the case, submitted the charge sheet against the seven in court.
During the investigation, four out of five arrested accused, except Matin, confessed to the killing.
According to the charge sheet, Dhaka city BNP’s Joint Convener MA Qaiyum had planned the murder as part of a conspiracy to create anarchy in the country, put pressure on the government and send a message to foreigners that they were not safe in Bangladesh.
Investigators claim that Qayum’s brother Abdul Matin coordinated the murder, hiring three killers to murder a “white man” (foreigner). Tavella became their prey.
Sohel supplied the firearms while Sharif provided the motorcycle used in the killing.