Bangladesh diplomats claim they have information that the remaining three killers stayed in different countries including Libya, Pakistan, Kenya and Spain in the last one decade.
After verifying the information through different means, their presence in those countries could not be ascertained till now.
Foreign ministry officials said the whereabouts of two killers could be ascertained so far. The government is doing everything to bring them back.
Law firm LL Skadden has been retained to bring back Rashed Chowdhury from USA while Torry LLP has been appointed to bring back Nur Chowdhury from Canada. Besides, communication continues at various other levels to bring them back.
According to information on the US justice department website, in a letter on 17 June 2020, the US attorney general William Barr at the time had asked the Board of Immigration Appeals for the records on granting political asylum to Rashed Chowdhury. After extension for once, the records were sent to the office of attorney general in September that year.
Diplomatic sources said the post of US attorney general was changed after Joe Biden took over as the US president. Moreover, the case of Rashed Chowdhury is being delayed due to the outbreak of coronavirus. However, related departments on behalf of Bangladesh have recently contacted concerned offices in the US several times, diplomatic sources in the US have said.
Speaking to Prothom Alo about the latest update to bring back the killers of Bangabandhu, foreign secretary Masud Bin Momen said, "The US attorney general's seeking records have raised our hope. Seeking records on a settled issue is significant. The US government itself has taken steps about the matter. At different levels of discussion with the US, we always press for the extradition of Rashed Chowdhury."
About Nur Chowdhury, Masud Bin Momen said Bangladeshi-origin Canadian citizens have been engaged in mobilising public opinion to bring back Nur Chowdhury. As Canada will hold elections in October-November, Bangladeshi-origin Canadian citizens want to apprise the candidates about the issue. Besides, the government is taking steps in accordance with the recommendations of the Bangladesh-appointed Canadian law firm regarding the case with the court there to get information about Nur Chowdhury. Diplomatic sources in Dhaka and Washington said Bangladesh mainly contact the Department of State directly about bringing back Rashed Chowdhury. Under special case, Bangladesh also contacted other departments. The State Department declines to make any specific statement terming the matter a 'legal affair'.
Former foreign secretary Shahidul Haque said such a complex matter needs time to reach a solution. Political and legal steps have to be continued to bring back two killers from US and Canada. They may be brought back if efforts are continued.
The verdict over Bangabandhu murder case was delivered on 8 November 1998. Then Dhaka sessions judge Kazi Golam Rasul gave the judgment sentencing 15 accused to death. Later the High Court upheld death sentences of 12 accused. The death sentences of killer Syed Faruque Rahman, Bazlul Huda, AKM Mohiuddin Ahmed, Sultan Shahriar Rashid Khan and Muhiuddin Ahmed were executed on 27 January 2010. Another killer Aziz Pasha died in Zimbabwe in June 2001.
Of the fugitive killers, Abdul Majed was arrested in Dhaka on 6 April 2020. He was executed on 11 April in Dhaka central jail. At that time, Indian media ran news that killer Majed had got married and was living in Kolkata for long under a false identity.
*This report, originally published in Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten in English by Rabiul Islam.