A Dhaka court on Sunday indicted BNP Senior Vice Chairman Tarique Rahman, former state minister for home Lutfozzaman Babar and 28 others for the August 21 grenade attack on an Awami League rally in the city.
Trial in the macabre attack of 2004 which left 24 people killed and around 200 injured will begin on March 28.
When the trial begins, previously indicted 22 others, who include BNP leader Abdus Salam Pintu, will also come under trial, the court ruled.
Of those indicted on Sunday, Babar, Jamaat-e-Islami secretary general Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed and 17 others are now in jail custody and on bail and have pleaded not guilty.
They demanded justice after Judge Shahed Nuruddin of the Speedy Trial Tribunal-1 read out the charges to them.
Tarique Rahman, also the elder son of BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia, is now living London and 10 other freshly indicted accused remain absconding.
Charges were framed against them in absentia.
Referring to the previous indictment on October 29, 2008, the court said it would remain valid.
After the grenade attack on the AL rally on August 21 in 2004, two cases were filed –one under explosive substances act and the other for killing people.
In 2008, the Criminal Investigation Department submitted charge sheets against Pintu and 21 Huji men including militant kingpin Mufti Hannan.
CID’s Assistant Superintendent of Police Fazlul Kabir on March 29, 2009 filed a case against three former CID investigators– SSP Ruhul Amin and ASPs Munshi Atiqur Rahman and Abdur Rashid–for attempt to mislead the investigation.
On July 3 last year, names of 30 more people included in the supplementary charge sheet.
Of the 30 named in the supplementary charge sheets, 11 including Babar, Mojaheed and former directors general of National Security Intelligence Major Gen (retd) Rezzaqul Haider Chowdhury and Brig Gen (retd) Abdur Rahim are behind bars. One is out on bail.
The rest including Tarique and BNP leaders Harris Chowdhury and Kazi Shah Mofazzal Hossain Kaikobad and former director general of Directorate General of Forces Intelligence Major Gen (retd) ATM Amin have yet to be detained.
The supplementary charge sheets have raised the number of accused in the cases to 52.
On October 9 last year, Syed Rezaur Rahman, chief prosecution counsel, proposed the court to frame charges against all 52 accused, alleging that they had meetings at several places, including the Hawa Bhaban, to plot the grisly blasts.
During the BNP-led four-party alliance rule, the then CID investigators tried to mislead the probe to save the real culprits and falsely implicated one Joj Miah.