Bangladesh to press ahead with efforts to bring back Khairuzzaman

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Dhaka, Feb 16: The government will continue to pursue the repatriation of former high commissioner M Khairuzzaman, who was accused in a case over the killing of four national leaders, from Malaysia, foreign minister AK Abdul Momen has said.

“We will continue our efforts in all possible legal ways,” said the foreign minister on Wednesday after the Malaysian authorities released Khairuzzaman from a detention centre where migrants are kept for deportation

The four national leaders — Syed Nazrul Islam, Tajuddin Ahmad, M Mansur Ali and AHM Quamruzzaman — were killed at Dhaka Central Jail on Nov 3, 1975 amid bloody coups and counter-coups.

Khairuzzman, a retired army officer, then joined the foreign ministry. He was later charged and arrested in the Jail Killing case for his alleged role in masterminding the killing after the Awami League returned to power in 1996.

During the BNP-Jamaat-e-Islami government, he was cleared of the charges and the military-backed caretaker government sent him to Malaysia as high commissioner in 2007.

After the Awami League returned to power again, he was recalled in 2009, but stayed in Malaysia by using a UNHCR refugee card.

The Malaysian authorities arrested him on Feb 9 “at the request of Bangladesh”.

A court ordered a halt on the process to deport him on Tuesday and the authorities released him on Wednesday.

State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam on Tuesday said the Malaysian government would defend in court its decision to send back Khairuzzaman and the Bangladesh government will provide help in the process, if necessary.

On Wednesday, Momen hinted at joining the legal battle on behalf of the Bangladesh government.

“We try to bring the Bangladeshi criminals back. Many of them go into hiding. If we can trace their location, we resort to a legal process,” he said.

He added he was unaware of any decision on appointing a lawyer to fight the legal battle in Malaysia to bring Khairuzzaman back.