Bellal Hossain Sabuj landed in jail four months ago in a mugging case but he walked out of jail two months later on bail. He then reunited with his cohort, Abdur Rahman alias Milon who served time twice in mugging cases, and resumed their criminal activity.
On October 8, the duo killed second-year Daffodil University student Khandaker Abu Talha, 23, when he protested their attempt to mug a pedestrian at Wari in the capital. The incident was recorded by a CCTV camera which police collected as evidence.
Sabuj is one of the dozens of muggers who continued with their criminal activity after being arrested and then released on bail or acquittal, according to police and lawyers.
Before their arrest in Talha murder case, Sabuj, 19, and Milon, 20, had been arrested several times for mugging, said Farid Uddin, deputy commissioner of Wari division police.
A police headquarters database shows that 88 percent accused of mugging got acquitted between January and June. During this period, judgments in 157 robbery cases involving 436 accused were delivered.
Only 53 accused were punished in 27 cases while 383 walked in 130 cases.
Besides, police in the six months submitted final report in 104 robbery cases filed across the country. During the period, police submitted charge sheets against 619 accused in 221 cases.
Most of them got bail.
Talking to The Daily Star, a former district judge, requesting anonymity, blamed witnesses' and victims' non cooperation for mugging accused getting acquitted.
When trials begin, witnesses often fail to show up before court as they have no relations to the victims, he said.
In some cases, witnesses appeared in court but stop coming when the legal process becomes long, he said, adding that this helps the accused get bail.
The former judge said the only solution was to make the entire legal process faster.
Metropolitan Public Prosecutor Abdullah Abu mentioned the lack of witnesses as the prime reason behind 88 percent mugging accused not getting punished. “It becomes difficult to prove cases when police fail to present witnesses and the complainants in court,” he added.
Sahely Ferdous, assistant inspector general of police headquarters, also mentioned the difficulty regarding witnesses and complainants.
Police sources said “mugging” has no legal definition in Bangladesh law. If one to four people forcefully take away valuables from someone using arms, then a case is filed under Section 392 of the Penal Code, which is a robbery case.
TALHA MURDER CASE
Wari police arrested Milon and Sabuj at the capital's Kaptan Bazar early yesterday, said DC Farid during a press briefing at his Golapbagh office.
Around 6:45am on October 8, Talha, just 50 yards away from his home on RK Mission road, noticed Milon and Sabuj taking valuables ambushing a rickshaw passenger.
He immediately started calling for help and tried to stop the muggers, said the Wari DC.
The suspects then pinned Talha to the ground and stabbed him in his leg and abdomen, he said. Talha died in Dhaka Medical College Hospital.
Farid said the two were professional muggers and had been mugging people for the last five years.
Milon was last arrested a year ago and Sabuj this July, he said.
Yesterday afternoon, Milon and Sabuj made confessional statements before a magistrate under the section 164.