Trial yet to start in Hotel Olio blast case

Staff Correspondent

15 August, 2020 12:00 AM printer

Three years have passed since a blast at Hotel Olio International in the capital’s Panthapath on the National Mourning Day of August 15, 2017, but the trial in the case is yet to start. 

On that day, a suspected suicide bomber of “Neo JMB” Saiful Isalm, 21, blew himself up during an anti-militancy operation at hotel Olio.

Police officials claim that Saiful planned to carry out an attack on the crowd going to pay homage to Bangabandhu on the National Mourning Day at Dhanmondi 32.

The case is now pending with the Anti-Terrorism Special Tribunal in Dhaka to start trial against 13 men of banned militant outfit Jamaatul Mujahidin Bangladesh (JMB).

Court sources said the case was shifted to the tribunal from Dhaka Chief metropolitan magistrate court on December 9, 2019. Since then, the court fixed dates like December 26, 2019, January 21, March 15 and April 28 of this year for indictment hearing.

But the trial is yet to start as the indictment hearing could not be held till now due to time petitions submitted by the defence lawyers in the case.

When asked, Public Prosecutor Golam Sarwar Khan Zakir said they are trying their best to start the trial in the case but it delayed as the court proceedings were stopped due to Covid-19 pandemic.

The state lawyer, however, hoped that the trial would be completed soon.

Earlier, on December 9, last year, the Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit of DMP submitted a charge sheet accusing 13 militants of new JMB in the case.

The 13 are Akram Hossain Khan Niloy, his parents Abu Turab Khan and Sadia Hosna Lucky, sister Tazrin Khanom Shuvo, Tanvir Yasin Karim, Tanvir’s wife Humayra Jakir alias Nabila, Abdullah alias Aichan Kabiraj, Abul Kashem Fakir, Nazmul Hasan Mamun, Tarek Mohammad, Lulu Sarder, Kamrul Islam Khan, and Abdullah.

Of them, Tazrin, Sadia, Humayra, Abu Turab, Tanvir and Abdullah are currently on bail while the rest of the accused are in jail.

When asked, Advocate Subrata Debnath, counsel for four accused said the case is now pandering with the court due to Covid-19 but now the court proceedings resumed and the trial will start soon.

The defence lawyer claimed that his four clients are ‘innocent’ and they will be acquitted from the charges through the trial.

According to the case, Saiful Isalm, 21, a member of New JMB, blew himself up on August 15, 2017 at Hotel Olio International on Panthapath close to Bangabandhu Memorial Museum, the historic house in Dhanmondi, where the Father of the Nation was brutally killed along with most of his family members on August 15, 1975.

The incident took place just three hours after President Md Abdul Hamid, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, and other high-ups of the government paid their respects to the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at the museum in Dhanmondi on the National Mourning Day.

The National Mourning Day procession was the bomber’s target, but he was forced to detonate early when the CCTC unit cordoned off the hotel.

CTTC unit officials said cornered by the anti-militancy drives after Holey Artisan Bakery attack on July 1, 2016, the New JMB had planned the attempted attack on the National Mourning Day procession.

Niloy, who was the chief New JMB then, planned the attack and instructed Saiful to take up position at the hotel. The militants used the Dark Web and a Telegram channel to communicate amongst themselves.

A day before the CTTC raid at the Hotel, the outfit’s explosives expert, suspect Mamun, supplied explosives to Saiful in the capital’s Abdullahpur area. Later, Saiful checked in the hotel with a suicide vest to carry out an attack on the crowd joining the August 15 memorial.

According to charge sheet, Niloy was the mastermind of the blast, while Tanvir, Abu Turab, Sadia, Humayira, and Tazreen were the financiers.