The then president had asked investigators not to probe the killing of four national leaders on November 3, 1975, Anisul Huq, principal state counsel in the jail killing case, told the Supreme Court yesterday.
Quoting from the statement of prosecution witness EA Chowdhury, then deputy inspector of Special Branch of Police, Huq said EA Chowdhury along with the then home secretary and inspector general of police had informed President Khandaker Mushtaq Ahmed of the jail killing at Bangabhaban on November 4, 1975.
But Mushtaq through his military secretary had told them that he already knew about that and there was no need to investigate the killing, said the counsel.
Citing statement of another prosecution witness Col (retd) Safayet Jamil, Huq told the court that some army officials including Safayet had tried to try and punish the army personnel, who had killed Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his family members on August 15, 1975, by bringing them back to the cantonment.
However, they [Safayet and other army officials] could not do so in the face of hindrance from President Mushtaq Ahmed and then army chief Ziaur Rahman, said the lawyer.
Huq was placing arguments before the apex court on the third day of the hearing on the government's appeal against the High Court verdict that had acquitted six former army personnel, who had been convicted and sentenced by a lower court.
The six are Marfat Ali Shah, Abdul Hashem Mridha, Lt Col (dismissed) Syed Farooq-ur Rahman, Lt Col (retd) Sultan Shahriar Rashid Khan, Maj (retd) Bazlul Huda and Maj (Retd) AKM Mohiuddin Ahmed.
Yesterday, the six-member SC bench headed by Chief Justice Md Muzammel Hossain adjourned the hearing until January 29.
In 2004, the Dhaka Metropolitan Sessions Judge's Court sentenced three former army personnel to death and 12 others for life in a case filed in connection with the killing of four national leaders -- Syed Nazrul Islam, Tajuddin Ahmad, AHM Quamruzzaman and Captain Mansur Ali -- inside jail.
The court awarded the capital punishment to Muslemuddin, Marfat Ali Shah and Abdul Hashem Mridha.
Those who were awarded life imprisonment for abetting the killers are Syed Farooq-ur Rahman, Sultan Shahriar Rashid Khan, Bazlul Huda, Lt Col (dismissed) Khondaker Abdur Rashid, Lt Col (relieved) Shariful Haq Dalim, Lt Col (retd) SHMB Noor Chowdhury, AKM Mohiuddin Ahmed, Lt Col (retd) AM Rashed Chowdhury, Maj (relieved) Ahmed Shariful Hossain, Capt (retd) Abdul Majed, Capt (relieved) Kismat Hasem and Capt (relieved) Nazmul Hossain.
On August 28, 2008, the HC in its verdict upheld the capital punishment of Muslemuddin, but acquitted Marfat Ali and Hashem.
It exempted from the case Farooq, Shahriar, Mohiuddin and Bazlul Huda, who had already been executed in the Bangabandhu assassination case, and did not say anything about the eight others given life term by the lower court.
As of yesterday, Anisul Huq placed statements of 13 of the 64 prosecution witnesses.