A Dhaka court yesterday sentenced Moazzem Hossain, former officer-in-charge of Sonagazi police station, to eight years’ rigorous imprisonment for filming Nusrat Jahan Rafi’s statement and circulating the clip without her consent.
Judge Ash Sams Joglul Hossain of the Cyber Tribunal of Dhaka handed down the judgement in Moazzem’s presence around 2:40pm.
Moazzem was also fined Tk 10 lakh, defaulting on which would add a further seven months to his prison sentence. The family of the victim shall get the fine as compensation, the tribunal said in his judgment.
The court found the OC guilty under sections 26 and 29 of the Digital Security Act which deal withfilming someone without consent and circulating a video of someone on social media without their permission.
It handed the maximum punishment allowed under the offences; five years for filming madrasa student Nusrat without her consent and three years for circulating the clip.
The sentences will be served consecutively.
The judge observed that Moazzem committed the crime while holding a very responsible office as an OC. On the other hand, Nusrat was only 18 at the time of the crime.
Furthermore, the offences were committed when the girl went to the accused’s office seeking legal help against sexual assault, allegedly committed upon her by her principal and “subsequently while she was fighting for life in the burn unit of Dhaka Medical College & Hospital”, the judge observed. Therefore, he should be given a severe punishment.
Soon after the verdict was given, the victim’s younger brother Rasedul Hasan Raihan told journalists that they were satisfied and hoped the verdict would be upheld in the higher courts.
Moazzem’s lawyer said they would appeal with the higher court against the judgement, adding that they did not get justice.
Barrister Syed Sayedul Haque Sumon and also the complainant of the case, expressed his satisfaction over the verdict and said the judgment had been a warning to all the OCs who thought themselves the “Zamindars of the police stations”.
The judge said OC Moazzem admitted that he recorded Nusrat’s statement for the sake of investigation, but he denied circulating it and said the clip was stolen from his phone.
The judge said the OC was a powerful person and no person would have the courage to copy anything from his cell phone without Moazzem’s permission, the judgment added.
The judge said he had watched the video and saw Nusrat trying to cover her face with her veil, but the OC asked her to remove it as he continued filming her statement without her permission.
And the OC passed the video clip to Atiar Rahman Sajol and a deputy inspector of police, the judge cited in his verdict.
Nusrat, a student of Sonagazi Islamia Senior Fazil Madrasa in Feni, was set on fire on April 6 -- allegedly for refusing to withdraw a sexual assault case filed against the madrasa’s principal Siraj Ud Doula.
After fighting for her life for five days, she died at Dhaka Medical College Hospital on April 10.
The same day, Moazzem was withdrawn from his OC post, as Nusrat’s family alleged that he was not cooperating with them. Moazzem was suspended on May 8 for his negligence in duty over Nusrat murder.
A video clip of the then Sonagazi OC asking Nusrat humiliating questions went viral on social media, drawing widespread criticism.
On April 15, Barrister Sumon filed the case against Moazzem under the Digital Security Act and the court directed the Police Bureau of Investigation to probe the matter and submit a report to it by April 30.
PBI found Moazzem’s involvement with the incident and submitted the report on May 27. The court then issued an arrest warrant against him.
Later on June 16, police arrested Moazzem from near the High Court area when he went there seeking anticipatory bail in the case. On July 17, the tribunal framed charges against Moazzem in the case.
Special Public Prosecutor Nazrul Islam Shamim appeared for the state.
A Feni court on October 24 sentenced all the sixteen accused, including Siraj Ud Doula to death for killing Nusrat.