Former Bangla army officer convicted of killing Mujib may still avoid deportation

By Mayank Chhaya


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Chicago : A California court's decision not to hear an appeal against deportation of a former Bangladeshi army major convicted in his country of killing its founder Sheikh Mujibur Rahman over 30 years ago may not be the end of the road for him yet.

The attorneys for A.K.M. Mohiuddin Ahmed may still have the option of appealing the decision in the Supreme Court in order to avoid his deportation. Although his attorney, Joseph Sandoval, declined to offer any immediate comment on San Francisco's 9th Circuit Court's decision not to hear Ahmed's appeal. In terms of legal process, the former military officer still has some options left.

A spokeswoman for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which is in charge of Ahmed's case, also declined to "discuss" the case and what the future course of action could be. She told IANS that the department does not discuss such cases because it could "impede" the officers concerned.

There have been media reports that Ahmed would be deported soon and that his family in Dhaka was desperately trying to seek an asylum for him in Canada. On his part Ahmed's attorney Sandoval said "no comment" on the speculations.

Ahmed, who entered the US on a tourist visa in 1996 and stayed on illegally, was convicted in 1998 in absentia and declared a fugitive for his part in a military-led coup on Aug 15, 1975. Twenty-eight people, including Sheikh Mujib, most of his relations and political supporters were killed that morning.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Democratic Congressman Jim McDermott from Washington state, who has spoken up for Ahmed, told IANS that the leader had called the Canadian embassy requesting them to consider at least temporary asylum for the Bangladeshi man. He said the Canadian authorities "listened" to what the Congressman had to say and promised to take up the matter with those concerend in their government.

Mike DeCesare, communications director in the Congressman's office, said, "This (the assassination) is an event that occurred 30 years, the trial occurred 25 years later. The Congressman has raised the question of due process. Is it not wise to do so when it it is a question of someone's life and death?"

DeCesare said McDermott was in favour of "slowing things down" and consider all issues in a "calm and deliberative" manner. "It is not a question of this man being just deported but him being flown to his execution," DeCesare said.

He said the Congressman was concerned that the facts of the case were not fully known and equally that whether due process was followed. The San Francisco court ruled that Mohiuddin "assisted or participated" in the persecution of others for political reasons and said the coup was "an act of terrorism", something viewed gravely in the US.