No headway for a decade in 30yr-old robbery case
Even though a decade has passed, trial of a case filed over the robbery at Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation (BADC) 30 years ago has not made any headway.
Only six out of 74 prosecution witnesses have given depositions before court in 10 years after charge framing in the case, according to the prosecution.
Mohsin Bhuiyan, the then Executive Engineer (Parts) of the BADC Central Store, who filed the case in May 1991, passed away on August of 2013 without providing his depositions.
Among the remaining 68 witnesses, one has died, but 67 others have not appeared before court, despite several summons, the prosecution said.
"Of the 67 prosecution witnesses, 22 are police personnel, while 29 others are employees of BADC," said the case documents.
The trial of the case is now pending at the Additional Metropolitan Sessions Judge's Court-2 of Dhaka.
The court has issued several summons with non-bailable arrest warrants against the 67 absentee witnesses, but they did not comply with multiple court orders, a staff of the concerned court said.
"The prosecution's responsibility is to inform the court for issuing summons or non-bailable arrest warrants upon the witnesses to appear before it [court] on the schedule date for depositions. But police will take initiatives to find out whereabouts of the witnesses and produce them before the court," SM Zahid Hossain, additional public prosecutor, told The Daily Star.
"If the police fail to do so, there is nothing for the court or prosecution to do," he said, adding, "Trial proceedings are being delayed as the witnesses are nowhere to be found."
The robbery took place on May 16, 1991. Around 2am, some seven to eight robbers tied up the hands, legs, mouth, and eyes of three night-guards inside the central store of BADC in the capital's Tejgaon area and looted various parts then worth Tk 10-15 lakh, according to case documents.
Following the robbery, Mohsin Bhuiyan filed a case with Tejgaon Police Station accusing some unidentified people.
After around 19 and half years' probe, IO Magfurul Wadud, also inspector of Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of police, submitted the charge sheet to the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate's Court in Dhaka against 11 people on October 17, 2010.
In the charge sheet, Munjur Rahman Khan, Shahjahan Howlader, Mobarak Bepary, Bipul Chandra Biswas, Khondoker Rofiquzzaman, Ruhul Amin, Mobarak Hossain Mridha, Syed Mosharrof Hossain alias Akkel Mir, Abul alias Abul Hossain, Abdur Rahman alias Bablu and Abdul Malek were named.
Of them, Munjur, Bipul, Rofiquzzaman, and Mobarak Hossain were deputy assistant engineers of BADC, while Mosharrof and Abdur Rahman were also its staffers.
On March 8, 2011, the court framed charges against the eleven accused. Munjur, Shahjahan, Mobarak Bepary, Mobarak Hossain, Mosharrof and Abdul Malek are now on bail, while Bipul, Rofiquzzaman, Ruhul Amin, Abul Hossain, and Abdur Rahman are on the run.
"If the court cannot complete the trial proceedings of a case for want of witnesses' deposition for a long time, it can go for the verdict based on recorded depositions as per provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure," Supreme Court's senior lawyer Khurshid Alam Khan said.
"The court can issue non-bailable arrest warrants against the absentee witnesses again and again and sent the letter to the authorities concerned to produce them [witnesses] before it," he added.