Attack on US envoy Bernicat’s car: Little progress in investigation in five years

Former US ambassador Marcia Bernicat in her car

The case regarding the attack on the of former US ambassador to Bangladesh Marcia Bernicat has seen little headway in five years. No one has been brought to trial so far in this sensational case.

The US ambassador at the time, Bernicat, had attended a dinner at the home of Badiul Alam Majumdar, the secretary of Shusasoner Jonno Nagorik (SHUJAN), on 4 August in 2018. On her way back, her vehicle came under attack. Badiul Alam Majumdar filed a case with Mohammadpur police station after the incident.

The US on several occasions asked Bangladesh about the progress of the investigation into the case. They urged Bangladesh to take the incident seriously and sought an effective and neutral probe into the incident.

Bernicat joined as US envoy in Dhaka on 25 January in 2015 and left on 2 November in 2018 upon completion of her term.

Asked about the headway in the case, home minister Asaduzzaman Khan told Prothom Alo that the Detective Branch (DB) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) is investigating the case and the perpetrators would certainly be brought to book.

A further investigation report into the attack on the motorcade of Bernicat was supposed to be submitted in the court on 9 July. DB, however, did not submit the report to the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM) court. The court has now set 6 August for submitting the report. Earlier on 28 December the court ordered further investigation into the case.

Harun or Rashid, additional commissioner (DB) of DMP told Prothom Alo today that the police in Mohammadpur submitted a report in the court as the case was filed there. Later the court ordered DB to further investigate the case.

DB is investigating the case thoroughly, Harun said, adding that the investigation is yet to be completed.

Court sources said a total of six people gave deposition in the court in the case. Three of them said a certain Ishtiaque Mahmud was involved with the attack. That’s why the prosecution sought further investigation to the court. The court ordered further investigation upon hearing.

The US at that time sent a diplomatic letter to the foreign ministry seeking trial of the attackers. That letter said the security members of the ambassador identified two attackers. During the attack, these two persons were shouting, ‘Badiul Alam is involved with anti-government activities’. The attackers punched two members of the ambassador’s security team when the attackers were obstructed as they were approaching the vehicle. As the motorcade whizzed past, the attackers hit two cars with sticks. The government issued a statement condemning the attack and termed the incident as ‘unfortunate’. The statement assured of taking proper action upon investigation. So far, the case has seen little progress.

The incident took place just four and half months before the general election in 2018.  The attackers were leaders and activists of the ruling Awami League known as associates of the local member of parliament. Later the case did not see any headway due to political reasons.

SHUJAN secretary Badiul Alam Majumdar told Prothom Alo today that five years have passed but the case saw no progress and it seems unlikely that anything will happen.

The incident of attack on the then US ambassador was a criminal offence. The UK high commissioner in Bangladesh Anwar Choudhury came under a bomb attack by militants during the BNP regime in 2004. The UK was critically injured in a powerful blast in Sylhet. The attack on the US envoy was carried out by the local leaders- and activists of ruling Awami League.