Officials concerned say the trial is pending as regular court hearings are not being held because of the Covid-19 pandemic
Four years have passed since the blast at Hotel Olio International in Dhaka’s Panthapath area on August 15, 2017, the National Mourning Day, but the trial is yet to start.
The case is now pending with the Anti-Terrorism Special Tribunal in Dhaka against 13 members of the new bench of banned militant outfit Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB).
The case was transferred to the tribunal from Dhaka Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Court on December 9, 2019.
Since then, the tribunal had fixed several dates for indictment hearings. But the trial did not start as regular court hearings are not being held because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Public Prosecutor Golam Sarwar Khan Zakir told Dhaka Tribune that utmost efforts were being made to start and complete the trial as soon as possible.
Advocate Subrata Debnath, counsel for four of the accused, said: “The case is pending at the court due to the pandemic. The trial will hopefully start soon after regular court proceedings resume.”
Those behind the blast
On December 9, 2019, the Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit of Dhaka Metropolitan Police submitted the charge sheet accusing 13 militants of New JMB, the JMB offshoot.
They are Akram Hossain Khan Niloy, his parents Abu Turab Khan and Sadia Hosna Lucky, sister Tazrin Khanom Shuvo, Tanvir Yasin Karim, Tanvir’s wife Humayra Jakir alias Nabila, Aichan Kabiraj alias Abdullah alias Rafik, Abul Kashem Fakir alias Abu, Nazmul Hasan Mamun, Tarek Mohammad alias Adnan, Lulu Sarder alias Shahid, Kamrul Islam Khan alias Shakil, and Abdullah.
Another charge sheet was submitted against a teenaged boy, Tajul Islam, one of the accused in the case, under the Children Act.
Of the accused, Tazrin, Sadia, Humayra, Abu Turab, Tanvir and Abdullah are currently out on bail, while the rest are in prison.
According to case details, New JMB member Saiful Islam, 21, blew himself up on August 15, 2017, at Hotel Olio International, only about 300 metres away from Bangabandhu Memorial Museum -- the historic house in Dhanmondi where Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was brutally killed along with most of his family members on the same date in 1975.
The incident took place just three hours after President Md Abdul Hamid, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and other top government officials paid tributes to Bangabandhu at the museum on the National Mourning Day.
The National Mourning Day procession was the bomber’s real target, but he was forced to detonate early as the CTTC had cordoned off the hotel, according to police.
CTTC officials said New JMB had planned the attack on the procession as they were feeling cornered by the nationwide anti-militancy drives that started after the Holey Artisan massacre on July 1, 2016.
Niloy, the then New JMB chief, had planned the attack and instructed Saiful to take position at the hotel. The militants used the dark web and instant messaging app Telegram to communicate among themselves.
A day before the CTTC raided the hotel, the militant outfit’s explosives expert, Mamun, had handed over the explosives to Saiful in the Abdullahpur area.
Later, Saiful checked into the hotel with a suicide vest to carry out the attack on the crowd joining the August 15 program.
According to the charge sheet, Niloy was the mastermind behind the attack; Tanvir, Abu Turab, Sadia, Humayra and Tazreen were the financiers; and Abdullah, Kamrul, Tareque and Abdullah alias Aichan aided and abetted the militants.