Bangladesh: 9 Charged over 2018 Attack on US Envoy’s Vehicle

Jesmin Papri
Dhaka
2021-03-05
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Bangladesh: 9 Charged over 2018 Attack on US Envoy’s Vehicle Marcia Bernicat, the then-American ambassador to Bangladesh, speaks to reporters at the National Press Club in Dhaka, Oct. 5, 2015.
BenarNews

Police investigators in Bangladesh have charged nine activists linked to the ruling Awami League or its student front for their alleged roles in an attack on a motorcade carrying the U.S. ambassador in August 2018.

The suspects threw brickbats at the car carrying Ambassador Marcia Bernicat after she left a dinner party at the home of Badiul Alam Majumdar, a critic of the ruling party, according to a charge sheet filed before the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’s court in Dhaka on Jan. 18 and obtained by BenarNews on Friday.

Another critic of the Awami League, Kamal Hossain, president of the opposition Gono Forum party, had attended the dinner as well.

“Local leaders and activists of the ruling Awami League’s Mohammadpur neighborhood unit carried out the attack as they suspected that there was ‘anti-state conspiracy’ going on at the residence of Dr. Majumdar,” the charge sheet alleged.

Shortly after the Aug. 4, 2018, incident, the U.S. Embassy said “a group of armed adult men,” including some on motorcycles, had attacked Bernicat’s convoy as it drove through the city’s Mohammadpur residential block before midnight.

“The ambassador and her security team departed the area unharmed,” said the statement, which was published on the embassy’s website. “However, two security vehicles sustained some damage.”

The charge sheet said the suspects then attacked Majumdar’s home, throwing brickbats that broke windows. They were identified as Naimul Hasan, Firoz Mahmud, Mir Amzad Hossain, Md. Sazu Islam, Rajibul Islam Raju, Shahidul Alam Khan Kajol, Tanna, Siam and Oli Ahmed.

Investigating officer Md. Abdur Rouf filed charges including unlawful assembly, criminal mischief and criminal intimidation. If convicted, the suspects could be sentenced to up to two years.

The investigating officer alleged that nine others were involved in the incident and could be charged in the future.

Six of the suspects appeared in court and secured bail on Feb. 28, while three others have absconded, court sources told The Daily Star in Dhaka.

After waiting nearly 2½ years for charges to be filed, Majumdar expressed frustration with the police action.

“This is an extremely farcical charge sheet because it has spared the main accused,” he told BenarNews, identifying a leader of the ruling party. “My house was attacked, but the police concluded that an anti-state conspiracy was going on.

“It is the responsibility of the state to secure my residence,” he said, adding, “The consequences of this attack could be grievous – either the U.S. ambassador or I could have died.”

Meanwhile in Washington, a U.S. State Department spokesperson responded to a BenarNews request for comment on the charges.

“We are aware of the media reports and will continue to track developments,” the spokesperson said.

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