22 years of Ramna bomb blast: Murder case still pending in High Court

Friday marks the 22nd anniversary of the bomb blast at Ramna Batamul that left some 10 people dead on 14 April 2001.File photo

Two cases were filed following the deadly bomb attack at the Bangla new year celebration of Chhayanaut at Ramna Batamul in Dhaka 22 years ago.

The trial court had handed down its verdict in one of the two cases in 2014, but it is still waiting to be disposed of at the High Court. 

The death reference of eight convicts of the murder case and their appeal challenging the trial court’s verdict came up in the hearing schedule of several High Court benches. But the hearing is yet to be finished due to various issues. 

The other case filed under the Explosive Substances Act is still pending in the lower court. The court of seventh additional metropolitan sessions judge in Dhaka has so far recorded testimonies of 54 witnesses in the case and is scheduled to hear the defendants on 17 May.   

Friday marks the 22nd anniversary of the incident that left some 10 people dead on 14 April 2001.

The police filed the cases with Ramna police station, accusing Mufti Abdul Hannan and other 13 leaders of militant group Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami (HuJI). 

After 13 years, Ruhul Amin, second additional metropolitan sessions judge of Dhaka, sentenced Mufti Hannan and seven other militants to death and six others to life imprisonment. 

The case documents along with the lower court judgment were sent to the High Court for further judgment. It was recorded at the High Court as a death reference case in 2014.

The paper-book was also prepared for hearing the case in the High Court. Meanwhile, the convicts filed an appeal against the trial court verdict. 

According to concerned lawyers and other sources, a dual bench started hearing the death reference and the appeal in 2016. But it was dropped from the schedule on 8 August 2017.

Later, the case was placed before a dual bench on 23 October 2019, but it also excluded the case from the schedule. 

Deputy attorney general Shahin Ahmed Khan argued on behalf of the state in the last hearing. He told Prothom Alo on Tuesday that the case file was forwarded to the chief justice's office after the last dual bench’s senior judge was transferred to the Appellate Division. 

The hearing is supposed to take place if the chief justice fixes a bench, he said, adding that he was unaware if a bench is fixed or not.   

According to a court source, the case documents are now in the High Court’s death reference section. After the ongoing vacation of the Supreme Court, the case will be presented to the chief justice for fixing a bench.

Apart from Mufit Hannan, other death-row convicts of the case are Akbar Hossain, Arif Hasan alias Sumon, Tajuddin, Jahangir Alam alias Badar, Abu Bakar alias Salim Howladar, Abdul Hai and Shafiqur Rahman.

Mufti Hannan was hanged in 2017 in the case of a grenade attack in 2004. According to the court documents, Tajuddin, Jahangir and Abdul Hay are still at large. 

Mohammad Shishir Monir, lawyer of the convicts,  said the death reference and appeal of the convicts were placed before three High Court benches. But none of the benches finished the hearing.

The process will begin once the chief justice fixes a bench again, he added.