Dhaka begins process to extradite ex-PM Zia's son from UK

Wednesday 09th May 2018 05:53 EDT

Dhaka: Bangladesh has initiated a "vigorous process" with the UK government to extradite Tarique Rahman, the "fugitive" son of imprisoned former prime minister Khaleda Zia, who has sought political asylum in Britain. Rahman, 50, who had been jailed during the military-backed interim government, was allowed to visit London for medical treatment following a Supreme Court order in 2007. He has been living in London since then.

Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), led by Zia, last month said that Rahman "temporarily" sought political asylum in the UK, triggering a political uproar in the country. Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali said that the government has initiated a "vigorous process" to bring back Rahman from London. "We have got responses from the UK Home Office as we have already written several letters" for Rahman's extradition, Ali said, a day after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said that the "fugitive" must face the justice.

The minister said that further steps would be taken based on the responses from the British authorities and "we will write more (letters) if needed". Rahman appeared on the country's political centre stage since a court sentenced her mother Zia to a five-year prison term on a graft case in February. The foreign ministry's comments came as Hasina said efforts were underway for Rahman's extradition "the way we bring back convicted criminals from other countries. It should not be forgotten that he is a convict and has been convicted in two cases while several other cases are pending in courts, we will surely bring back a convicted criminal for that we will exhaust the necessary process as per the law," Hasina said.

She accused the BNP of "political bankruptcy" for installing a "criminal like Tarique Rahman" as its acting chairman, saying "don't they have any other capable leader for the particular post". Hasina was in London last month for the Commonwealth Summit when Rahman was believed to have mobilised a pro-BNP Bangladesh community for an anti-government demonstration.

The premier at that time told a Bangladeshi community that the "fugitive convict" must face justice for the crimes he committed. Junior minister for foreign affairs Shahriar Alam later said that Rahman had abandoned his Bangladeshi citizenship by submitting his passport to British authorities, who in turn sent it to Bangladesh High Commission in London for retention. In response, the BNP said that Rahman actually sought asylum in London.

Rahman was sentenced to seven years' imprisonment and fined 20 crore taka (USD 2.3 million) by the high court in a money laundering case in 2016. Several courts earlier issued arrest warrants against Rahman, declaring him a fugitive as he was wanted in a number of criminal and graft cases.

According to one of the pending charges, he masterminded the 2004 grenade attack on a rally of the then main opposition and now ruling Awami League, killing 24 people while Hasina narrowly escaped the assault but with a permanent hearing impairment in one ear.

British authorities have so far declined to make any public statement on the issue, calling it a "personal matter of an individual".

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