The nation sees justice on the horizon 22 years after the deaths of 76 children from adulterated drugs as the lawyer of one of the four now-defunct pharmaceuticals charged with the adulteration completed his arguments yesterday.
The defence lawyer, Khondaker Bashir Ahmed, for Adflame Pharmaceuticals had sought adjournment of the court proceedings again but Justice Abdur Rashid of the Dhaka Drug Court turned down the appeal.
He fixed July 10 for the prosecution to complete their arguments.
According to the law, the court is to announce the date of delivery of the verdict once the prosecution completes its arguments.
Two of the five accused Adflame officials -- Director Dr Helena Pasha and Manager Mizanur Rahman -- were present in court yesterday. The remaining three have been absconding since a case was filed against the company in 1992.
Until 1991, complaints were filed with the government relating to the death of as many as 76 children from acute renal failure after taking “Flammodol”, paracetamol syrup produced by Adflame. The medicine was tested positive for deadly industrial chemical diethylene glycol.
While placing his arguments, lawyer Bashir claimed his clients' innocence.
Public Prosecutor Shaheen Ahmed Khan then sought the court's permission to place arguments on the next workday.
The court has already heard four prosecution witnesses, including the complainant of the case Abul Khair Chowdhury, the then superintendent of the drug administration, and recorded their statements.
There were three other brands found to have contained the same chemical, causing renal failure of children. The manufacturers were Polychem Laboratories Ltd, BCI (Bangladesh) Ltd and Rex Pharmaceutical.
An estimated 2,700 children reportedly died in unexplained circumstances of kidney failure between 1980 and 1992.
The Directorate of Drug Administration filed four cases against the pharmaceuticals following a national outcry. In 1994, the owners of the pharmaceuticals managed to have a stay order issued on the proceedings of the cases. Trial of all the cases remained suspended for 13 years following the orders.
In an investigation in 2009, The Daily Star found that though the HC stay order in the case against Adflame had been cancelled two years ago, the trial court was kept unaware of it.