Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)-South Africa has decided to extradite Maulana Tajuddin Ahmed, a key suspect in 2004 grisly grenade attack on an Awami League rally, to Bangladesh, a minister said.
Ahmed has been hiding in South Africa for years to avoid legal proceedings in Bangladesh, reports the Hindustan Times.
The development came when a delegation of South Africa paid a visit to Bangladesh recently and Bangladesh Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal requested the delegation to extradite Tajuddin, reports state-run news agency Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS).
“South Africa has agreed to repatriate Maulana Tajuddin Ahmed to Bangladesh and for this it wants to sign an extradition treaty with us,” the minister told the BSS in Dhaka.
“We have exchanged information and other documents for the next course of measures to this end,” he said.
South Africa’s Deputy Minister for the Department of International Relations and Development, Nomaindiya Mfeketo, led the delegation which recently paid a visit to Dhaka.
If it happens, it will be a major development to bring the people behind the politically sensitive case to light as the attack on the rally of the then opposition leader Sheikh Hasina had left at least 24 people dead and scores wounded in front of the headquarters of Bangladesh Awami League party in Dhaka.
Hasina had narrowly escaped the August 21 attack despite more than one powerful grenades exploded very close to her podium where she just finished her speech as chief guest.
Observers say the attack was designed to take political advantage by eliminating the opposition force led by Hasina and creating chaos in the country.
Hasina’s Awami League party blamed the then government BNP led by Khaleda Zia, her arch rival and wife former president Ziaur Rahman, for the attack.
Khaleda’s elder son Tarique Rahman, also the senior vice chairman of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), is a key accused for allegedly backing the attackers.
He has been living in London for years as he faces charges of corruption.
Banned Islamist group Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami’s leader Mufti Hannan is another key suspect in the case. He is currently behind bars.
Tajuddin Ahmed is a brother of former deputy minister in Khaleda Zia’s cabinet, Abdus Salam Pintu, during her premiership in 2001-2006.
Pintu is also an accused in the case and is currently in prison.
The appeal to South Africa has been made after Bangladesh authorities came to know from Interpol that Tajuddin has been living in South Africa.
On August 19 in 2014, the Interpol informed Bangladesh that Tajuddin was in South Africa and it issued a red alert against him as a most wanted suspect.
According to a prosecution witness in the case, Pintu (Abdus Salam Pintu) sat in a meeting at his official residence with a group of militant leaders including his brother Maulana Tajuddin and Mufti Hannan and assured them of giving support for security for the attack.
Maj (retd) Atiqur Rahman, then deputy director of the intelligence unit of the Rapid Action Battalion, told a court in 2013 that Tajuddin Ahmed was a key man behind the attack.