Bangladesh charges politician with Italian’s murder

A Bangladesh court on Tuesday charged an opposition party leader with the murder of an Italian aid worker, drawing an angry reaction from the party which accused the government of trying to discredit it.

Bangladesh charges politician with Italian's murder
Workers carry the coffin containing Cesare Tavella's coffin. Photo: AFP

M.A Quayum, the Dhaka city leader of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), was indicted in absentia over the killing last year of the Italian charity worker Cesare Tavella.

Dhaka police have said the murder was part of a conspiracy to smear the secular government and destabilize Bangladesh, which has suffered a series of Islamist attacks on foreigners and religious minorities.

“The court will start hearing the witnesses from November 24th. Five people are now in custody. Quayum and another (indicted person) are still absconding,” prosecutor Abdullah Abu told AFP.

Tavella was shot dead in Dhaka's diplomatic zone in September last year by assailants riding on a motorbike.

Bangladesh's elite security force Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) said last week he was killed by a new faction of the Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), an extremist group.

But Isis has also claimed responsibility.

The BNP said charging Quayum, who is believed to be living in exile in Malaysia, reflected “the government's malicious intent”.

“The RAB DG (director general) said the new-JMB is responsible for Tavella's murder. But today we saw that Quayum was indicted over the murder,” senior BNP official Asaduzzaman Ripon said.

“Which one shall we believe as the truth? The government is trying to taint BNP's image internationally by blaming our party men for an incident that we condemned in the first place,” Ripon told AFP.

Human rights activist Nur Khan Liton said there should be a fresh investigation.

“Different law enforcing agencies are presenting different versions (of information about the murder),” he told AFP.

“Therefore, it shows the weakness in the charge sheet. We demand reinvestigation to find out the truth.”


Italy’s president calls for ‘full truth’ on anniversary of Bologna bombing

President Sergio Mattarella said on Tuesday it was the state's duty to shed more light on the 1980 bombing of Bologna's train station, on the 42nd anniversary of the attack that killed 85 people and injured 200.

Italy's president calls for 'full truth' on anniversary of Bologna bombing

On August 2nd 1980, a bomb exploded in the railway station’s waiting room, causing devastation on an unprecedented scale.

Five members of terrorist groups were later convicted in relation to the bombing, the worst episode in Italy’s ‘Years of Lead’ period of political violence in the 1970s and 80s.

Most recently, in 2020, a former member of the far-right Armed Revolutionary Nucleus (NAR) was sentenced to life imprisonment for providing logistical support to those who carried out the attack.

But suspicions remain of cover-ups and the involvement of “deviant elements” within the nation’s security services, reported Italian news agency Ansa.

READ ALSO: Bologna massacre: 40 years on, questions remain over Italy’s deadliest postwar terror attack

“The bomb that killed people who happened to be at the station on that morning 42 years ago still reverberates with violence in the depths of the country’s conscience,” Mattarella said in a speech marking the anniversary on Tuesday.

“It was the act of cowardly men of unequalled inhumanity, one of the most terrible of the history of the Italian Republic.

A train compartment at Bologna station pictured following the 1980 bombing attributed to the neo-fascist terrorist organization Nuclei Armati Rivoluzionari.

“It was a terrorist attack that sought to destabilise democratic institutions and sow fear, hitting ordinary citizens going about their everyday tasks.

“On the day of the anniversary our thoughts go, above all, to the relatives forced to suffer the greatest pain.

“The neo-fascist nature of the massacre has been established in court and further steps have been made to unveil the cover-ups and those who ordered the attack in order to comply with the Republic’s duty to seek the full truth”.

The bombing remains Western Europe’s fourth deadliest postwar terror attack, and one of the most devastating in Italy’s history.