Toronto, Feb 22 (IANS) The Canadian media has slammed the government for not deporting Bangladeshi fugitive Nur Chowdhury who shot dead Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his extended family in in the August 1975 coup.
A 24-year-old major at that time, Chowdhury has been living in the Etobicoke area of Toronto since 1996.
The 61-year-old assassin, who was tried in absentia and sentenced to death April 2001 along with 11 others, cannot be deported because Canada doesn’t send fugitives back to countries which have the death penalty. Bangladesh hanged five of his co-plotters last year last year after Amnesty International described the trial as fair.
“But here in Canada, the death penalty is exactly what is keeping the 61-year-old man safe: Ottawa doesn’t deport people who face execution. For that reason, Chowdhury remains here in limbo, even though Bangladesh wants him to face justice at home,” wrote the Toronto Star last week.
“His refugee claims have been denied and courts have ordered him removed from the country, but that is not likely to happen anytime soon,” the paper added.
Writing in the country’s biggest tabloid Toronto Sun Monday, columnist Jerry Agar said, “In all, they (Chowdhury and his co-conspirators) killed 21 people. Chowdhury was found to be instrumental in the murders. Bangladesh wants him back. Canada says, ‘You can’t have him.’ Why won’t we deport him? Because Bangladesh has the death penalty and we don’t approve.”
The columnist asked, “Why we can’t at least lock him up in a Canadian jail cell is a mystery to me. The Canadian government does want to send him back and has obtained a removal order. But we are taking an official moral position imposed by the Supreme Court’s decision that the death penalty would ‘shock the conscience’ of Canadians.”
The columnist argued, “It is one thing to take a moral stance against the death penalty. But it’s quite another to take it to the extreme of harbouring a vicious, cold-blooded assassin, so he can live in comfort in a condo in Canada and thumb his nose at an entire nation.” He said if the nation in question was America rather than Bangladesh, Canada “would be hustling the killer back across the border, faster than you could say: ‘exceptional circumstances’. So what do we have against Bangladesh?”
Chowdhury was given diplomatic posting by Khandaker Moshtaque, who came to power after the coup, and later military rulers and served in many countries, including Iran and Brazil.
But when Mujib’s daughter Sheikh Hasina came to power in 1996, she called Chowdhury back from Hong Kong where he was the country’s consul general to face trial. But he fled to the US and entered Canada to apply for asylum.
His application for permanent residence in Canada has been rejected many times since then.