Bernicat motorcade attack: DB seeks US embassy's ‘info’ and ‘observations’

Former US ambassador Marcia Bernicat
Prothom Alo

Dhaka Metropolitan Police's Detective Branch (DB) sought help from the US embassy in Dhaka for further investigation about the attack on the former US ambassador to Bangladesh Marcia Bernicat. DB asked the embassy to provide them with any ‘information’ or ‘observations’ regarding the case.

The investigating officer of the case, DB Assistant Commissioner Rajan Kumar Saha has sent a letter to the embassy in this regard. This letter was sent last Thursday to the Senior Foreign Service National Investigator of the Regional Security Office of the United States embassy.

Five years have passed since the attack on Marcia Bernicat's motorcade, but no one has been brought to justice. The court ordered further investigation into the 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 2018. On her way back, her vehicle came under attack.

The letter sent from the DB to the embassy mentioned details of the incident. The letter says the court charged nine people in this case in March, 2021. They are Firoz Mahmud, Naimul Islam, Mir Amzad Hossain, Saju Islam, Rajibul Islam, Shahidul Alam Khan, Mojahid Azmi, Siyam and Oli Ahmed. But the public prosecutor (PP) of the Dhaka metropolitan sessions judge court Abdullah Abu pleaded for further investigation. In the application he said, five people including the plaintiff gave their statements to court and three of them mentioned the name of Imtiaz Mahmood, brother-in-law of Badiul Alam Majumdar, as the culprit. But the investigating officer did not mention his name. So, further investigation is required to identify the true culprit.

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DB Assistant Commissioner Rajan Kumar Saha in his letter said after court’s order of further investigation he was appointed as investigation officer. He mentioned in the letter, “ I have already visited the crime scene, talked with plaintiff Badiul Alam Majumdar, attempted to take depositions, the investigation work is in progress.”

DMP’s additional commissioner (DB) Harun-or-Rashid told Prtohom Alo on Saturday, “ We will finish the investigation work soon. The depositions are more or less taken. Now, we have asked the embassy if they have any information or opinion to let us know.” He further added, the case was filed in Mohammadpur police station. They placed a charge sheet at the court following an investigation. Later, the court assigned the responsibility to DB for further investigation.

The last date of submitting the report of the case was 6 August. As the report was not submitted by then the court has fixed the next date as 4 September.

Meanwhile, the plaintiff Badiul Alam Majumdar expressed his disappointment as the people involved in the incidents are yet to face the trial even in five years. He said to the Prothom Alo, “I hope now the culprits can be identified and the criminals will face trial.”

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

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 that proper would be taken action upon investigation.

When asked about the matter, home minister Asaduzzaman Khan told Prothom Alo, “The US has inquired several times about the state of investigation of the case. We are treating the matter with seriousness.”