Police yesterday pressed charges against Ayesha Siddika Minni and 23 others for alleged involvement in the daylight murder of her husband Rifat Sharif in Barguna, an incident that triggered a huge public outcry across the country.
The charge sheet was submitted to Barguna Senior Judicial Magistrate’s Court under sections 302, 34, 212, 109, 114 and 120-B(1) of the penal code, Md Maruf Hossain, superintendent of police in Barguna, said in a statement to the media.
The sections deal with charges including murder, causing grievous injury, harbouring an offender, abetment to any offence and criminal conspiracy to commit an offence. If found guilty, the accused could face punishment ranging from seven years in jail to death sentence.
The SP didn’t mention the names of the other accused.
On June 26, Rifat, 25, who used to provide internet services, was hacked to death in broad daylight in front of Minni on June 26. A video clip of the incident went viral on social media. In the footage, Minni was seen trying to save her husband from the attackers.
Talking to this newspaper yesterday, Abir Mohammed Hossain, officer-in-charge of Barguna Sadar Police Station, said, “We had to divide the charge sheet into two segments -- one for 14 juvenile accused, and the other for 10 adults. Minni’s name figured seventh on the list of adult accused.”
“The court will decide on the charge sheet at a hearing on September 3 [tomorrow],” he added.
Police officials involved in the probe said the charge sheet didn’t contain the name of Sabbir Hossain Nayan alias Nayan Bond, the prime accused in the murder case, who was killed in a gunfight with police on July 2.
They said a total of 15 people, including Minni, are now behind bars over the murder, and all of them have been included in the charge sheet.
The 14 others are siblings Rifat Farazi and Rishan Farazi; Arian Shrabon; Ratul Shikder; Kamrul Islam Simon; Chandan Sarkar; Rifat Howlader; “Tiktok” Ridoy; Sagor; Rabbi Akond; Tanvir Hossain; Hasan; Oli and Nazmul Hassan.
Nine of the charge-sheeted accused are on the run. They are Mohaiminul Islam; Rakibul Islam Rifat; Musa; Raihan; Maruf Billah; Maruf Mollick; Niamat; Prince and Nayem, according to the police officials.
Seeking anonymity, one of them said they already got details of the murder from the confessional statements of the 15 arrestees.
“We are now conducting drives to arrest the nine absconding accused.”
Talking to The Daily Star yesterday, Minni’s father Mozammel Hossain expressed disappointment over the charge sheet.
“The name of my daughter has been included in the charge sheet to save the killers as she was the only eyewitness to the incident,” he said.
On the other hand, Rifat’s father Abdul Halim Dulal Sharif said he was happy with the charge sheet.
“I hope and believe that I will get justice, and capital punishment will be awarded to the accused.”
Sharif filed the murder case with Barguna Sadar Police Station against 12 people on the day of the incident, and Minni was the main witness in the first information report.
Police arrested Minni after a daylong interrogation on July 16. A Barguna court placed her on a five-day remand the following day. Three days later, the court recorded her statement.
On August 29, Minni was granted bail by the High Court on conditions that she would remain in her father’s custody and that she wouldn’t talk to the media.
The HC yesterday released the full text of the verdict that granted bail to Minni, clearing the way for her release from Barguna jail.
“We will take necessary steps so that the certified copies of the High Court verdict reach the lower court concerned and the jail authorities in Barguna as soon as possible,” Minni’s lawyer ZI Khan Panna told The Daily Star.
Meanwhile, the government filed a petition with the Supreme Court, seeking a stay on the HC verdict that gave Minni bail.
The Attorney General’s Office submitted the petition to the SC through its advocate-on-record Sufia Khatun.
Sufia said the apex court’s chamber judge may hear the petition today.
Asked, Panna said they would place arguments against the stay petition.