When will the bail hearings of central BNP leaders take place?
The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) Standing Committee member, Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury, was arrested on 2 November. The Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM) Court in Dhaka rejected his bail plea and granted him a 6-day remand the next day.
His lawyers submitted another bail plea to the Dhaka Metropolitan Session Judge Court on 8 November, stating that the appeal could be heard in the first week of December.
Similar to Amir Khasru, other central BNP leaders are also approaching the Dhaka Metropolitan Session Judge Court after facing rejections from the Dhaka CMM Court. The court is scheduling the hearing dates approximately two to three weeks after the submission of the bail petitions.
However, the release of BNP leaders is uncertain even if they secure bail, as they are accused in several cases. The police can show them arrested in other cases if necessary. Lawyers representing 10 central leaders mentioned that the police have started including their clients' names in several other cases.
Speaking to Prothom Alo, BNP’s international affairs secretary Masud Ahmed told Prothom Alo that the BNP leaders have been arrested in political cases. The reality is if the BNP leaders, including secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, do not get justice in the court, then they will have to remain in jail.
Several central leaders of the BNP, including Mirza Fakhrul Islam, two standing committee members Mirza Abbas and Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury, three vice-chairmen Shahjahan Omar, Altaf Hossain Chowdhury and Shamsuzzaman, joint secretary general Syed Moazzem Hossain, organising secretary Imran Saleh, BNP media cell coordinator Zahir Uddin Swapan, Dhaka north city BNP member secretary Aminul Haque, have been imprisoned in cases filed over the violence that erupted on the day of the BNP’s grand rally on 28 October. Many of the BNP leaders are in hiding now.
According to the sources in the police and information sent by the Prothom Alo correspondents across the country, around 9,000 activists and leaders of the BNP and its associate bodies have been arrested since 28 October.
More than 3,000 of them were arrested from Dhaka alone. Lawyers are saying that it’s taking longer than usual to get a date for a bail hearing.
Speaking to Prothom Alo, Dhaka Metropolitan Session Judge court’s additional public prosecutor Tapash Kumar Pal said it usually takes around a week to get a date for hearing when somebody moves to the session judge court from the CMM court.
He cited two probable reasons behind the delay now. First, the activities of the trial court will remain closed in December. The court will hear the bail petitions for only eight working days that time. This is why it’s taking more time than usual to get a date for bail hearings. The second reason is the pressure due to numerous numbers of cases being filed.
There are two sections in the criminal justice system of the country. One is the magistrate court and the other is the session judge court. A person can appeal to the session judge court to challenge the verdict given by the magistrate court.
Mirza Fakhrul was arrested on 29 October and presented before the court on the same day. The court remanded him to prison on that day. A bail petition was submitted to the judge's court on 2 November, with the court initially scheduling the hearing for 20 November.
However, the hearing was postponed to 22 November due to the illness of the Public Prosecutor that day. Despite the rescheduled hearing, Mirza Fakhrul and other BNP leaders and activists were not granted bail.
It was mentioned in writing in the bail plea of Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir that he had been suffering from heart diseases for a long time. The physicians have identified four blocks in his heart. He is severely ill.
Mirza Fakhrul’s lawyer Syed Jainul Abedin told Prothom Alo, “The BNP secretary general is always respectful to the court. He appeared before the court regularly when he was on bail. We will go to the High Court after getting the copy of the court order rejecting the bail plea."
When are the bail hearings?
According to the information provided by the lawyers of BNP leaders, BNP standing committee Mirza Abbas was arrested on 31 October. The CMM court granted him a 5-day remand rejecting his bail plea the next day.
His lawyer Mahiuddin Chowdhury told Prothom Alo, “We submitted a bail petition with the session judge court in the first week of November. The hearing of the petition is likely to be held on 29 November.”
Syed Moazzem Hossain Alal was arrested on 31 October. The CMM court rejected his bail plea. His lawyers submitted a bail petition with the Dhaka Metropolitan Session Judge court on 7 November. The hearing on the petition is likely to be held on 29 November.
BNP vice-chairman Altaf Hossain Chowdhury was arrested on 4 November. His bail plea was rejected by the CMM court the next day. His lawyers appealed to the session judge court for his bail on 7 November.
His lawyer Taherul Islam told Prothom Alo that Altaf Hossain is sick. He is over 80. The session judge court has fixed 29 November to hear his bail plea.
BNP media cell coordinator Zahir Uddin Swapan was arrested on 2 November. The CMM court rejected his bail plea the next day. His lawyers appealed for his bail with the Dhaka Metropolitan Session Judge Court on 8 November.
The police arrested BNP organising secretary Syed Imran Saleh on 4 November. A petition has been submitted with the session judge court seeking his bail on 8 November.
Speaking to Prothom, Syed Jainul Abedin, lawyer of Zahir Uddin Swapan and Imran Saleh, said, “The court will hear their bail plea in the first week of December.”
BNP leader Shamsuzzaman Dudu was arrested on 6 November. The next day, the CMM court in Dhaka rejected his bail plea. A petition has been submitted with the session judge court. The hearing over this could be held in the first week of December.
Shown arrested in several cases
According to the lawyers, Mirza Fakhrul is accused in at least nine cases filed after 28 October, while Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury faces accusations in seven cases.
Several other central leaders of BNP are also implicated in various cases. Shamsuzzaman and Zahir Uddin Swapan have been shown arrested in another case filed with the Paltan police station.
BNP Law Affairs Secretary Kaiser Kamal expressed to Prothom Alo, “Most of the party leaders are elderly individuals, and they are suffering from health complications. Despite this, the court is rejecting their bail pleas. BNP leaders and activists are not getting any justice.”
*This report appeared on the online version of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Ashish Basu