A number of accused in the Rifat murder case yesterday vented their frustration inside and outside the courtroom, asking why local Awami League lawmaker’s son Sunam Debnath was not named in the case.
“Why is Sunam Debnath not an accused? Sunam Debnath gave the directive. So why is he not named?” a number of defendants were heard shouting while getting on a police van after the court proceeding ended.
A number of lawyers who were present in the courtroom told The Daily Star that some suspects asked the same question during the hearing on the charge sheet at the Senior Judicial Magistrate’s Court in Barguna.
On Sunday, police pressed charges against 24 people, including Rifat’s wife Ayesha Siddika Minni, over the sensational murder. She was released on bail yesterday.
Sunam, son of Barguna-1 lawmaker Dhirendra Debnath Shambhu, denied any wrongdoing.
“My name was not mentioned in any confessional statements given by the Rifat murder accused. None of them mentioned my name while on police remand,” he told The Daily Star.
“We have a political rivalry with the district Awami League Chairman Delowar Hossain. For this, his brother-in-law’s sons Rifat Farazi and Rishan Farazi mentioned my name on the court premises in a planned way,” said Sunam, also the science and technology affairs secretary of the district AL.
Delowar said he did not think he had any enmity with the Debnath family, and denied that he instructed anyone to mention Sunam’s name.
Barguna Police Superintendent Maruf Hossain declined to comment.
But several police officials involved in the investigation told this paper earlier that no suspect mentioned Sunam’s name during interrogation or in their confessional statements.
Investigators also said they did not find his involvement in the daylight murder on a Barguna road.
A number of the accused and their family members hold posts in the AL and its front organisations, including the Chhatra League.
The charge sheet does not name a mastermind.
The court did not accept the charge sheet as the case documents are in another court, where two suspects filed for bail. The court will hear the case again on September 18.
The court ordered the police to send six minor accused to the Juvenile Rehabilitation Centre in Jessore, said Minni’s lawyer Mahmudul Bari Aslam.
MINNI WALKS OUT OF JAIL
Forty-nine days after she was arrested for her alleged link in the killing of her husband, Minni walked out of the Barguna district jail around 4:35pm yesterday.
Earlier on Monday, the Supreme Court cleared the way for her release on bail.
Rifat, 25, was hacked to death in front of Minni on June 26 on a Barguna road. A video clip of the incident that went viral on social media shows Minni trying to save her husband from the attackers in vain.
She was the prime eyewitness in the case filed by Rifat’s father.
The case took a different turn after police arrested her on July 16, following a daylong interrogation, on suspicion of her involvement in the murder.
A Barguna court placed her on a five-day remand the following day. Three days later, Minni gave her confessional statement, which her family claimed was taken under duress.
Police have denied that they applied force to extract confession.
According to police sources, Minni faces four charges, including aiding and planning the murder and communicating with prime accused Nayan and another suspect Rifat Farazi before and after the incident.
At least four suspects mentioned her name in their confessional statements, the sources added.
75 WITNESSES, 50 PIECES OF EVIDENCE
In the 34-page charge sheet, police named 75 prosecution witnesses and submitted 50 types of evidence, police said.
The evidence includes two cell phones, the machete used in murder, screenshots of Facebook Messenger Group “007”, 12 screenshots of social media status during the incident, and Minni’s dress, pictures, comb, hair and makeup kits gathered from prime accused Sabbir Hossain Nayan’s house.
Nayan, also known as Nayan Bond, was killed in a so-called gunfight with police in on July 2.
MOTIVES BEHIND THE KILLING
In the charge sheet, police mentioned two motives behind the brutal attack, sources said.
First, a rivalry between Rifat and Nayan began when Rifat got in the way of Minni and Nayan, who continued to have an affair even after Minni’s marriage with Rifat.
Second, a dispute began after Rifat forcibly took away the cell phone of an accomplice of Nayan named Helaluddin.
“Two days before the murder, Rifat took away the cell phone of Helaluddin. Helal then sought Nayan’s help to get his phone back,” a police officer told The Daily Star.
Nayan then requested Minni to get the phone from her husband, said the official.
“Rifat physically abused Minni when she tried to take the phone. Minni then informed Nayan about the incident and asked him to handle the matter himself,” the officer said.