Five law enforcement officers have been suspended over the escape of two death-row convicts from court premises in Dhaka.
CMM Court Inspector Matiur Rahman and SI Nahidur Rahman, along with ATSI Mohiuddin, and constables Shariful Hasan and Abdus Sattar, who were tasked with escorting the convicts to court, have been taken off duty, Deputy Commissioner Jasim Uddin said on Monday.
On Sunday, Moinul Hasan Shamim alias Samir and Abu Siddique Sohel alias Shakib were snatched from police custody by their associates while they were being taken back to a lockup in the court premises after testifying in a case.
Shamim and Sohel, both leaders of the outlawed militant outfit Ansar-al-Islam, were sentenced to death over their involvement in the killings of writer-blogger Avijit Roy and publisher Faysal Arefin Dipan.
Witnesses said the convicts' cohorts sprayed some chemicals in the eyes of their police escort before making off with them.
In the wake of the incident, police formed a five-strong committee to investigate the matter while announcing a Tk 2 million reward for information leading to the capture of the runaway convicts. A red alert was also issued across the country.
Police registered a case with Kotwali Police Station over the incident. A court has also placed 10 people on remand for questioning in custody.
According to the case statement, the militants had planned an attack on the police before snatching the convicts from their custody. Syed Ziaul Haque alias Major Zia, a sacked army officer, is believed to have masterminded the plot. Around six unidentified men helped the convicts escape on two getaway motorcycles.
A dozen Ansar-al-Islam members stationed at the court's main entrance snatched the convicts from the police. They later escaped on two motorcycles.
ESCAPED MILITANTS UNDER SURVEILLANCE: POLICE
Harun-or-Rashid, an additional commissioner for Dhaka Metropolitan Police, said the escaped militants were under surveillance.
"Police are on the alert. We have taken all necessary measures to step up security in all areas," the officer said at an unscheduled press conference on Thursday afternoon.
“Our investigation is proceeding on all fronts,” he said. “We believe the suspects are under our surveillance and we will be able to arrest them any moment now.”
He mentioned the suspension of police personnel for possible negligence during the transfer to and from prison, saying there were set security measures for the process and the investigation will reveal the cause of the incident.
Special patrols and security measures are in place in Dhaka and elsewhere, Harun said.
“We are taking stricter precautions in moving suspects and the police commissioner has deployed additional police in the court area.”
All those involved, including the mastermind of the plan, would be brought to justice, he said.
SUBMIT REPORT ON MILITANTS’ ESCAPE CASE BY DEC 22: JUDGE
Dhaka Metropolitan Magistrate Shafi Uddin has issued an order to submit the report on the case over the escape of two death-row convicts from the court premises in Dhaka by Dec 22.
The judge fixed the date after accepting the case statement, said Sub Inspector Abu Sayeed Chowdhury, the investigating officer of the case.
Police Headquarters also formed a four-strong committee to investigate the incident. The committee has been asked to submit a report on the matter in three-working days, AIG Md Manzur Rahman said.