Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)-Bangladesh has asked the United Kingdom to send Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) Senior Vice-Chairman Tarique Rahman back to the country to stand trial of the cases filed against him, Bangladesh’s top government sources said.
A letter signed by Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali in this regard has already been sent to the Bangladesh high commissioner to the UK and he has been directed to hand the letter over to UK foreign secretary Philip Hammond, reports Gulf Times quoting Bangladesh’s top officials.
The government move came at a time when the BNP is enforcing a countrywide blockade coupled with occasional general strikes in protest against its alleged confinement of BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia and refusal to allow the party to hold a rally in the capital to mark the first anniversary of the January 5 polls which the BNP terms as the “democracy-killing day”.
During the tenure of “army-backed” caretaker government led by Fakhruddin Ahmed, Tarique, the elder son of BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia, was given bail in a number of cases and was allowed to travel to the UK in 2008 for medical treatment. He has been living in the UK since then.
“The government has taken an initiative to bring fugitive Tarique Rahman back to Bangladesh. As part of the initiative, Foreign Minister Ali wrote a letter to his UK counterpart Hammond requesting the British government to send Tarique back to Bangladesh to face the trial as well as action for his recent acts against the country and outrageous statements against the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman,” a source said.
There have been media reports in the past that communications were made with the UK authorities seeking the repatriation of Tarique against whom arrest warrants have been issued by many courts in Bangladesh.
While commenting on the matter, a top government official said: “To the best of my knowledge, this is the first ever foreign minister-level communication between Bangladesh and the UK regarding the repatriation of Tarique Rahman.”
Besides, he said that the High Court, on January 7, issued an order directing the government to take appropriate measures to prohibit print, electronic, and social media from publishing and broadcasting any statement by Tarique as long as he remains fugitive in the eyes of the law.
The foreign secretary has also been instructed by the court to submit a compliance report with regard to the present immigration status of Tarique in the UK, he added.
The BNP leader has been accused of being involved in terrorism, extremism, corruption, money-laundering, and suppression of the opposition, officials said.
The foreign minister also mentioned that there is sufficient evidence that Tarique was “one of the masterminds” behind the terrorist acts and violence in the run-up to and during the parliamentary polls on January 5, 2014, they said.
BBN/AKG/ANS-17Jan15-5:10pm (BST)