DHAKA, Aug. 13 -- Bangladeshi police on Tuesday arrested three retired army officers accused of masterminding the bloody 1975 coup in which the family of current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed was massacred. Police arrested retired Col. Syed Farook Rahman, retired Col. Mohammad Shahryar and retired Maj. Khair-uz Zaman from their residences early Tuesday morning. The men were arrested under the Special Powers Act, which allows suspects to be held for 120 days without formal charges. 'We have not pressed any charges yet, but we are investigating their roles in the killings of 1975,' an official at the police detective branch said. On Aug. 15, 1975, Bangladeshi troops -- allegedly led by Rahman, Shahryar and others -- killed then-President Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, his wife, his three sons, including one who was just 10 years old, and the president's two pregnant daughters-in-law. A total of 22 people died in the carnage. Sheikh Hasina and her younger sister Sheikh Rehana were out of the country and escaped the carnage. Mujibur Rahman was the leader of the Awami League, which led Bangladesh's drive for independence from Pakistan in 1971. The massacre ushered in 21 years of right-wing military rule. The Awami League, whose supporters revere Mujibur Rahman as father of the nation, finally returned to power this year after elections in June. Hasina, who became prime minister following her party's victory, has repeatedly vowed to put her father's killers on trial. Several officers involved in the 1975 coup have slipped out of the country since Hasina's victory and they are believed to be seeking asylum abroad.
Bangladesh's Foreign Ministry has appealed to friendly governments -- including the United States -- to reject any asylum plea from those allegedly involved in the coup. One suspect, retired Maj. Bazlul Huda was recently arrested in Bangkok for shoplifting and ordered to be deported to Dhaka. Huda subsequently declared himself stateless and he has appealed for asylum to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. Five other former army officers implicated in the coup were recalled from their diplomatic postings abroad in late June, but only one -- Zaman -- has returned. Upon his return to Dhaka, Zaman denied any connection with the military coup.