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B'desh leaders, intel chiefs face indictment in Ulfa arms case

world Updated: Jun 20, 2011 13:37 IST

Several high-profile Bangladeshi politicians and top intelligence officials could face indictment in the country's biggest arms haul case involving 10 truck loads of weapons allegedly destined for Ulfa hideouts in India, a top police official has said.

"We are now set to submit the supplementary chargesheet based on our (extended) investigations within the stipulated deadline of June 29," a senior official of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) said.

The official was speaking on the outcome of an investigation into the arms haul case of 2004.

He said that the probe done over three years and 17 extensions revealed "astounding facts" and the proposed chargesheet would suggest indictment of several high-profile politicians - now detained - and intelligence agency chiefs for their role in the abortive weapons smuggling.

The extended investigations were carried out under a court order as the case was initially brought for trial in 2008 before a Chittagong court which declined to accept the investigation report because of ambiguity or incompleteness.

But the court had to extend its deadline 17 times with the CID repeatedly seeking extensions for submitting the supplementary chargesheet as their probe unfolded "revealing facts" behind the haul.

The official said that the proposed chargesheet, among others, would seek indictment of now detained former minister Lutfuzzaman Babar of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party and former minister Motiur Rahman Nizami of the Jamaat-e-Islami, a crucial ally of ex-prime minister Khaleda Zia's past BNP-led four party coalition government.

The eight other suspects included former chief of National Security Intelligence Brigadier-General (retd.) Abdur Rahim and Directorate General of Forces Intelligence Major General (retd.) Rezzaqul Haider Chowdhury and Ulfa leader Paresh Barua.

Barua and another suspect, who was an industries ministry official, were on the run but the others were already in jail to face the trial in person.

"Like the (Hindu) Goddess Durga, this case too have 10 hands, which are very strong... very influential quarters of the then (BNP-led) government were involved in it who are to be brought to justice with caution," chief prosecution lawyer of the case Kamaluddin had told the court earlier while the investigations were underway.

The 10 truckloads of weapons was seized in April 2004 despite suspected efforts of certain "influential quarters" for its safe passage to Ulfa hideouts in northeastern India through Chittagong, but the case was shelved for years after the apparently "accidental" seizure.

The seized weapons, which included over 27,000 grenades, 150 rocket launchers, over 11 lakh ammunitions and 1,100 sub machine guns, were unloaded at a government jetty belonging to state-owned Chittagong Urea Fertiliser Company Ltd (CUFL) to be reloaded in trucks destined for northeastern frontiers.

The subsequent military-backed interim government in 2008 ordered a re-investigation amid allegations that there was a deliberate attempt on the part of the then BNP-led administration to suppress facts to weaken the case.

The reinvestigation process yielded the arrest of several high-profile intelligence officials including former NSI and DGFI chiefs and questioning of a number of senior officers including the then home secretary Omar Faruque.