The Supreme Court today acquitted Md Humayun Kabir, who had been incarcerated for 16 years and sentenced to death by a trial court for the abduction and murder of an eight-year-old in 2004.
He had spent 14 years of the sentence on death row.
Humayun, a truck driver from Sakera village under Ward No-3 of Laksam Pourasava in Cumilla, was arrested on July 4, 2004 in connection with the case when he was 27-years-old, his lawyer ABM Bayezid told The Daily Star.
Today, a four-member bench of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain, delivered the acquittal verdict after allowing an appeal filed by Humayun challenging the High Court verdict that confirmed his death sentence.
Humayun's lawyer Advocate ABM Bayezid said the defense made the argument for his acquittal on three grounds: Humayun was already in jail when the murder took place; lack of statements from the upazila nirbahi officer who recovered the child's body and the mother of the victim; and because the victim's father did not identify Humayun.
Citing the case statement, Bayezid said Zaheda Aktar Juthi, 8, a student of class two from Sakera village went missing on June30, 2004.
Her guardian lodged a general diary with Laksam Police Station the same day.
On July 2, 2004, the police filed a case under Section 7 of the women and children repression act on charge of abducting and killing Juthi. Humayun was arrested two days later, according to the statement.
On the same day, police recovered Juthi's body.
Humayun was then placed before a magistrate on July 5, 2004 and he made a confessional statement to the magistrate the same day.
Humayun said in the statement that he had strangled Juthi to death as her father Abdul Jalil had insulted him following an altercation over a monetary dispute, Bayezid said.
The Speedy Tribunal of Chattogram on April 5, 2006 convicted Humayun and sentenced him to death.
After hearing the death reference and appeal of Humayun, the HC on February 22, 2012 confirmed the trial court verdict.
Then Humayun filed an appeal with the Appellate Division challenging the HC verdict. In the appeal, he prayed to the apex court to acquit him of the charges, claiming that he was innocent.
Advocate Bayezid said the Appellate Division today acquitted Humayun Kabir as he said in the confessional statement that he was arrested on June 30, 2004 but it was stated in the case that he had been arrested on July 4, 2004.
Besides, Juthi's father Abdul Jalil told the trial court that he did not know Humayun.
Moreover, the statements from the then UNO of Laksam, who was said to be present during the recovery of Juthi's body, and her mother, were not recorded during the trial proceedings, Bayezid said, adding that the SC delivered the acquittal verdict considering all these grounds.
Bayezid said Humayun Kabir will be released after the full apex court verdict reaches the jail.
Deputy Attorney General Bishwajit Debnath represented the state during the virtual hearing of the appeal by the SC.