Tahmid Khan to return to Bangladesh court after acquittal on terror charges for 'lack of cooperation'
Khan's family maintains he was in custody at the time of the alleged offence
A Toronto university student released on bail in Bangladesh on Sunday after being acquitted of terror-related charges in that country will return to court in Dhaka on a lesser charge this Wednesday, his lawyer says.
Marlys Edwardh, a lawyer hired by Tahmid Hasib Khan's family, told CBC News that the 22-year-old has been charged with "a lack of cooperation with the policing authority" by Bangladeshi authorities. He had been under investigation for connections to an attack by militants that left 20 people dead.
It's alleged that he failed to appear at two police interviews on July 10 and 21 — a period during which his family maintains he was in police custody.
"It is noteworthy that the allegations of lack of cooperation coincide with when the commissioner of the police force stated on July 16th that Tahmid was being interrogated," Edwardh said Monday.
Authorities in Bangladesh announced Khan's arrest on August 4. At the time, they were seeking court permission to question him for 10 days in connection with the attack. But his family says he was in custody from July 1 — the day of the attack — until his release on Sunday.
Edwardh says Khan was released after the police filed a report called for by a Dhaka court establishing that he was thoroughly investigated and cleared of any links with attackers at the Holey Artisan Bakery on July 1.
That bakery was stormed by militants in an hours-long siege.
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In video footage filmed by witnesses and militants, Khan appeared holding a pistol and talking to the hostage-takers, but police said forensic analysis had shown the University of Toronto student had been forced to do so.
Based on these findings and a lack of other evidence of Khan's involvement in the attack, a court in Dhaka acquitted him of terrorism, Masudur Rahman, spokesman for the Dhaka Metropolitan Police, told Reuters.
On Sunday, Khan's friend and fellow university student Josh Grondin told CBC News that Khan isn't yet in the clear and that it may still be some time before he can return to Canada. "I hope that it's soon," Grondin said.
A spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada told CBC News on Sunday that the government is in contact with Khan's family, his legal counsel and Bangladesh authorities concerning the case.
"Due to privacy considerations, further details cannot be disclosed," said Jessica Seguin.
Edwardh says Tahmid is now with family and that she expects his counsel in Dhaka will have more information after his court appearance on Wednesday.
Despite the new charges, Grondin said Sunday he was thrilled at Khan's acquittal in connection with the attack.
"We've known that he is innocent all along so it's really nice to see that the Bangladeshi authorities have realized that now too," he said.
"He is in every sense a victim," rather than a perpetrator, Edwardh added.
With files from Reuters