Bangladesh hopeful of Bangabandhu killer Rashed Chowdhury's extradition

Rashed Chowdhury, a convicted killer of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, will soon be extradited to Bangladesh through the proper legal process, according to Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen.

“This is a process which is quite time consuming in this country (US), but we are always hopeful,” Momen said at a media briefing in New York on Tuesday.

“We had previously processed the deportation of another person from the US and he faced trial at home. We believe that we’ll be able to take this man home.”

“We’re pursuing it (the legal process),” Momen said.

Bangladesh executed six killers of Bangabandhu 11 years ago but Rashed was among five convicts who continued to evade the authorities.

The others are Abdur Rashid, Shariful Haque Dalim, Risaldar Moslemuddin and ABMH Noor Chowdhury.

Rashed is currently living in the US, while Noor Chowdhury is in Canada. Despite demands from Bangladesh for their extradition, they have not been sent back.

The whereabouts of Rashid, Dalim, and Moslemuddin remain a mystery. Last year, media reports indicated that Moslemuddin was living in India, but the Bangladesh government was unable to confirm those reports.

Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was killed along with most of his family members on Aug 15 in 1975 at his home in Dhaka’s Dhanmondi.

A group of army personnel had led Bangabandhu’s assassination though the Awami League leaders have always highlighted the possibility of local and foreign conspiracy behind the crime.

Bangladesh reversed its journey towards progress following the death of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib. The investigation into the carnage was stopped through an Indemnity Ordinance, which had saved the self-proclaimed killers from facing justice.

The ordinance was abrogated in November 1996 when the Awami League returned to power, paving the way for bringing the killers to justice.

After a lengthy trial, the court convicted 12 suspects and awarded them the death penalty in 2010.

Out of these self-proclaimed killers, five were hanged on Jan 28, 2010. They were -- Syed Faruque Rahman, Sultan Shahariar Rashid Khan, Bazlul Huda, Mohiuddin Ahmed and AKM Mohiuddin. Another of the killers – Aziz Pasha – died while at large.

Abdul Mazed, a fugitive convict, was arrested in Dhaka’s Gabtoli on Apr 7, 2020. Law enforcers said Mazed had fled to West Bengal and had only returned to Bangladesh during the COVID pandemic.

Mazed did not have a chance to appeal the death sentence, but asked for a presidential pardon. The petition was rejected and his death sentence was carried out six days after the arrest.

Around that time, Kolkata’s Daily Anandabazar reported that Indian detectives had detained fugitive killer Risaldar Moslemuddin.

The Bangladesh government, shocked by the report, wrote to India’s NCBR on the matter. The government later said the news was ‘incorrect’.

“There was a news report on Moslemuddin, but we investigated it and have not found any proof about its authenticity,” the law minister said.

Last year there were also reports that the US was reviewing the decision to grant Rashed Chowdhury diplomatic asylum.

On Jun 17, 2020, the then US attorney general William Barr summoned the Immigration Appeal Board to review the documents of Rashed's political asylum case.

US-based media outlet Politico wrote that the outcome of the review could lead to Rashed losing his asylum and being returned to Bangladesh.

Hasina had also written to the then US President Donald Trump, asking for Rashed’s extradition.

But there has not been much progress in the extradition process, according to Momen. “The (US) attorney general’s office is still checking the documents,” he said. “When we inquire about it, they say, ‘the attorney general’s office is independent and they are looking into the matter.'”

“We asked our expatriates to inquire with the attorney general’s office about it. We told many people – but they haven’t been able to do much good.”

Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen, Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim, Rabab Fatima, Bangladesh’s permanent representative to the UN and Director-General (UN Wing) of Ministry of Foreign Affairs Samia Anjum were present in the briefing.