Dhaka, Nov 16: A Bangladeshi court on Tuesday indicted ULFA chief Paresh Barua and 10 others, including two former ministers in the country's biggest ever weapons smuggling case when 10-truck loads of arms for the banned Indian separatist group were seized.
Charges were framed against 11 high-profile suspects, including former junior home minister Lutfozzaman Babar, Jamaat-e--Islami leader Matiur Rahman Nizami and former top bosses of the countrys' intelligence agencies, court officials and lawyers said in the southeastern port city of Chittagong.
"The hearing (of the main trial) will start on November 29," they quoted metropolitan sessions judge SM Mozibur Rahman as saying after the indictment as seven detained accused appeared before the court under heavy security escorts.
The two fugitive suspects, United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) leader Barua and a former additional secretary to the government, are to be tried in absentia, the court said.
The 10 truckloads of weapons were seized in April 2004 despite suspected efforts of certain "influential quarters" for its safe passage to ULFA hideouts in northeastern India through Chittagong, but the case was shelved for years after the apparently "accidental" seizure.
Officials familiar with the investigation said their extended probe found Chinese firm NORINCO to have produced the weapons but they could not identify the ship that carried the illegal consignment to Bangladeshi territory.