Dhaka: Defence lawyers today cross-examined a former chief of Bangladesh’s main counter intelligence agency in the country’s biggest ever weapon haul linked to India’s separatist ULFA outfit.
The court officials said counsels for the suspects grilled former director general of forces intelligence (DGFI) chief retired major general Sadik Hasan Rumi as he earlier testified before the court at southeastern port city of Chittagong.
Rumi in his statement earlier in the court pointed fingers to ex-junior home minister Lutfuzzaman Babar and several of his colleagues in the DGFI and apex National Security Intelligence (NSI) for the 2004 abortive attempt to offer safe passage of 10-truck loads of weapons to United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) in 2004.
Witnesses said Babar and 10 other detained suspects were brought to court under heavy security escorts as counsels of former DGFI director retired major general Rezzakul Haider Chowdhury cross-examined Rumi, a crucial prosecution witness to the case.
Metropolitan sessions judge SM Mozibur Rahman on 15 November last year indicted Babar, former minister and fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami chief and former minister in the past BNP-led government Motiur Rahman Nizami and nine others including ex-top bosses of the two intelligence agencies.
The fugitive two suspects ULFA leader Paresh Barua and a former additional secretary to the government are being tried in absentia since the trial began five months ago.
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 during the past Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)-led four-party rightwing government.
Officials familiar with the investigation said their extended probe found Chinese firm NORINCO to have produced the weapons but they could not identify the ship that carried the illegal consignment to Bangladesh territory.
The seized weapons, which included over 27,000 grenades, 150 rocket launchers, over 11 lakh ammunition 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.