Zia’s identity now seems key to solving N’ganj 7-murder case

Md Sakhawat Hossain Khan, chief of the local lawyers’ association, told this to journalists based on information he gathered from different sources about the statements

  • Additional DG of Rab Col. Ziaul Ahsan

Lt Commander (retd) MM Rana, a former RAB 11 official from the navy, who lost his job after the seven murders in Narayanganj, has revealed in his confessional statement that the crime had been committed on the instruction of the force’s high official named Zia.

Md Sakhawat Hossain Khan, chief of the local lawyers’ association, told this to journalists based on information he gathered from different sources about the statement.

Rana confessed to his involvement in the killings before the court of Senior Judicial Magistrate KM Mohiuddin of Narayanganj yesterday.

Sakhawat is also a lawyer of the complainants in the two cases filed in connection with the seven murders. The families of slain Awami League leader and Narayanganj city panel mayor Nazrul Islam and senior lawyer Chandan Sarker are the complainants.

Three former RAB 11 officials, including Rana, were arrested for their alleged involvement in the seven murders.

Of the three, only former RAB 11 chief Lt Col (retd) Tarek Sayeed Mohammad has not yet given any confessional statement.

Major (retd) Arif Hossain, another arrested ex-RAB official, gave two separate confessional statements in the two cases on Wednesday.

A source said Rana’s statements were of nearly 30 pages.

According to Sakhawat, Arif and Rana gave detailed descriptions of how the abduction and murders were carried out, where the victims were taken, where they were killed, who were involved in the murders and who gave the orders.

Those two even narrated how and from where the bricks, sacks and ropes were collected and how the dead bodies were tied up, which vehicles were used and how the bodies were dumped into the Shitalakkhya River.

“They also mentioned the name of a highly placed official of a certain force that they belonged to. They identified the high official as Zia and it was him who gave the orders for the abduction and the murders,” the lawyer said.

Asked what he meant by the “certain force” Sakhawat Hossain said he meant the RAB as those arrested three former officials belonged to the force.

The trio repeatedly said it was difficult for them to disobey an order that came from such a highly-placed official, Sakhawat said quoting a source as saying.

However, Sakhawat did not specify the rank and post of the high official named Zia but a couple of weeks after the abduction and murder on April 27, elite force Rapid Action Battalion’s Additional Director General (ADG) Col Ziaul Ahsan came under the spotlight due to some of his remarks on the gruesome seven murders.

His remarks about slain Nazrul’s father-in-law Shahidul Islam, who from the beginning of the incident had been blaming the RAB for its involvement in the crime, and counter-remarks of Shahidul about Zia drew the attention of everybody concerned.

At that time Col Ziaul Ahsan said they had specific information that Nur Hossain, the prime accused of the grusome murders, fled the country through the Benapole border on the night of May 2. And he specifically said Nur was in Kolkata.

He said the mystery surrounding the abduction and murders would be unveiled once Nur Hossain was arrested.

Senior RAB official Ziaul also said they were looking into whether Shahidul Islam, the father-in-law of slain ward councillor Nazrul Islam, had any role in the murders.

Shahidul, on the other hand, alleged that RAB ADG Col Ziaul had helped Nur to escape out of the country. He went further to say that the top RAB official was also involved in the abductions and murders along with three other officials of the RAB 11 unit.

When asked about it Wing Commander ATM Habibur Rahman, director of the RAB’s legal and media wing, said: “I do not know who said what in the 164 statements. The investigation authority will look into the matter if someone’s name comes up in confessional statement.”

Col Ziaul Ahsan, additional DG of the RAB last night told the Dhaka Tribune over phone: “Criminals can mention name of any person to save themselves after they have committed crimes. The investigation officer will uncover the truth after verification.”

Local lawyers association chief Sakhawat further said: “There was a similarity between what Arif said on Wednesday and what Rana confessed today [Thursday].”

In his confessional statement, Arif mentioned the names of 23 RAB members and some civilians including political godfathers.

Yesterday Rana too mentioned the names of those told by Arif and described all the stages of the murders, including the names of those who participated in the murders, and gave a vivid description of everything which the court recorded.

“You will be able to come to know about everything. But at this moment, I cannot disclose anything more for the sake of the ongoing investigation,” Sakhawat said.

Meanwhile, Narayanganj court sources, who had access to the statements, confirmed that the descriptions of the duo were almost identical.

One of the sources said both of the accused said local Awami League leader Nur Hossain had plotted the murder in connivance with Zia.

However, the sources did not want to elaborate anything more about Zia fearing retaliation.

Another source said Rana’s statement mentioned the names of 28-30 RAB 11 members, including Arif and Tarek.

Starting from the abduction of seven people from the link road on April 27 afternoon until the dumping of their bodies into the Shitalakkhya River
Nur Hossain maintained constant contact with the executioners, the source said.

According to one of the court sources, several RAB cars intercepted the two cars that the seven victims were on. They were then transferred to two microbuses before they were made unconscious by administering intravenous injections. Then their heads were wrapped in polythene bags.

The abductors moved around different places in and around the Narayanganj city with the victims inside the microbuses.

At night, the victims were taken to the Shitalakkhya River through a spot somewhere near the Kanchpur Bridge and their bodies were dumped into the river by trawlers.

Before throwing their bodies into the river, the killers attached sacks full of bricks to the bodies to make sure that they would never come to the surface of the river water.

About the progress in investigation, Sakhawat told the Dhaka Tribune: “I am satisfied with the progress made in the investigation so far.” He said he was particularly satisfied with the confessional statements.

“But my concern is, the accused have not yet been arrested. More revealing information about the planning of the murder may come out once the accused are rounded up,” said Sakhawat.

When this story was being filed at 9:15pm yesterday, a private television channel reported that Sakhawat was feeling insecure because he was being followed by some unknown people.

According to the television news piece, the lawyer has informed local police about his apprehensions.

He later told the Dhaka Tribune: “Around 6:15pm when I went to the parking lot on the court premises to get into my car four people blocked my way. They looked like people from defence department. They threatened me that I was being too enthusiastic.

“They told me that they would force me into disappearance and nobody would be able to find me,” he said.

Meanwhile, some local police officials involved in the investigation said on condition of anonymity that many sensational information and names of many influential persons were revealed in the confessional statements.

Investigators would have to proceed on the basis of those revelations which would be very challenging for them, said a police officer.

Source: Dhaka Tribune

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