A special court in Dhaka will deliver the judgment in the sensational Maj Gen Manzoor murder case on February 10, nearly 33 years after the war hero was killed in Chittagong.
The then army chief HM Ershad, now a special envoy to the prime minister, is the main accused in the case and is charged with ordering the murder.
Maj Gen Abul Manzoor was killed at the Chittagong Cantonment on June 1, 1981, just two days into the assassination of the then president Ziaur Rahman.
Manzoor, who was commander of Sector-8 during the Liberation War, was believed to have executed the abortive Chittagong coup in which Zia was killed.
The First Additional District and Sessions Judge's Court of Dhaka yesterday concluded hearing the closing arguments from the prosecution in the Manzoor murder case. Judge Hosne Ara Akhter then set the date for verdict delivery.
Ershad, also chairman of Jatiya Party, was present at the court.
During the hearing, Public Prosecutor Mohammad Asaduzzaman Khan Rochi made several points based on the statements of 28 prosecution witnesses, including the complainant of the case.
“I was able to prove beyond doubt the charges brought against Ershad and two other accused and sought the maximum punishment for them,” Rochi told The Daily Star.
Asked about the prosecution plea, advocate Sheikh Md Serajul Islam, who defended Ershad, said none of the 28 prosecution witnesses had given their statements against his client.
Ershad's name was not in the first information report of the case, he said, adding that his name was included in the charge sheet only to politically harass him.
According to Serajul, Ershad will be acquitted of the charge.
The other accused in the case are Maj (retd) Kazi Emdadul Haque, Lt Col (retd) Mostafa Kamaluddin Bhuiyan, Maj Gen (retd) Abdul Latif and Lt Col (retd) Shamsur Rahman Shamser.
Of them, Emdadul and Kamaluddin were present at the court set up at a building beside Dhaka Central Jail.
The High Court had earlier stayed the trial proceedings against Abdul Latif and Shamsur Rahman.
Around 14 years after Manzoor's killing, his elder brother Abul Mansur Ahmed filed a murder case with Panchlaish Police Station on February 28, 1995.
On June 27 that year, Abdul Kahar Akand, the then assistant superintendent of police of the Criminal Investigation Department, pressed charges against Ershad and four others.
According to the charge sheet, Ershad managed to secure an order from the then acting president to bring Manzoor from the police custody to the cantonment, upon a false promise of arranging a court martial for Manzoor.
However, while Manzoor was being taken to the cantonment, Ershad ordered Brig Aziz and Brig Latif over the phone to kill Manzoor.
As ordered, Maj Gen (retd) Abdul Latif, Lt Col (retd) Shamsur Rahman and then Captain Emdad shot dead Manzoor in front of the Firing Range of Chittagong Cantonment at 9:35pm on June 1, 1981, said the charge sheet.
The case was later transferred to Dhaka for security reasons.
After Ershad was deposed on December 6, 1990, at least 21 cases were filed against him. He was convicted and sentenced in several cases.
The former military dictator, however, was released on bail during the Awami League government rule in 1996.
Ahead of the 2007 general election, he was acquitted and exempted of graft charges in six cases amid speculations that he would join the then ruling BNP-led alliance.
Presently, trials in two other cases against Ershad are going on.