Such brutal crimes must not recur
The High Court has stressed the need for a strong message to avert brutal crimes like the abduction and killing of seven men in Narayanganj in 2014.
It also observed that such crimes of "extreme brutality" must not recur in any circumstances.
The court came up with the observations in the full text of its verdict in connection with the death references and appeals in the Narayanganj seven-murder case.
"… a strong message needs to be sent to the perpetrators of grotesque crimes and inhuman conducts against humanity so that no such gravest crime of extreme brutality as committed by the convicted accused persons in this case is committed by anybody else in future and that none is above the law," the HC said in the full text released yesterday.
On August 22 last year, the HC upheld death penalty for 15 convicts, including three former top Rab officials and expelled Awami League leader Nur Hossain, for their involvement in conspiracy, abduction and killing of the seven.
The HC bench of Justice Bhabani Prasad Singha and Justice Mustafa Zaman Islam, however, commuted the capital punishment of 11 others to life imprisonment. All the eleven had been sentenced to death by a Narayanganj court in the murder case.
The judges also upheld jail terms of nine others for various terms ranging from seven to 17 years.
The accused were found guilty of murdering seven people, including Narayanganj City Corporation panel mayor Nazrul Islam and senior lawyer Chandan Sarker. They were abducted from the Dhaka-Narayanganj link road on April 27, 2014. Later, their bodies were found floating in the Shitalakkhya river.
In the full text verdict, the HC said from the facts, circumstances, and evidence on record, it is evident that both the defence-accused personnel and civil accused-personnel conjointly under criminal conspiracy and pre-planning in furtherance of their common intention abducted the victims, killed them and dropped their bodies in the river.
"From the evidence and materials on record, it appears that the victim-deceased persons were at first kidnapped in a preplanned way out of conspiracy, then were killed by twisting their mouth with polythene and by strangulation with rope, the dead bodies were tied up with plastic sacks, containing bricks, the dead bodies were taken to the estuary of the rivers Meghna and Shitalakkhya, the dead bodies were perforated with knife under navels for easy drowning into the river water and thereafter dropped in the river water," the HC said.
"Said facts clearly suggest that as per pre-planned conspiracy and in furtherance of common guilty intention to kill the victims, they were killed by twisting their mouths with polythene and by strangulation with rope by the accused-persons and thereafter, to destroy the evidence, the dead bodies were dropped in the river water…
"To what extent the accused Nur Hossain is influential and powerful is evident from the fact that the victim Nazrul did not have the courage to file a case against the accused Nur Hossain although the men of the accused Nur Hossain beat up Nazrul and his men over construction of a drain. Rather, the accused Nur Hossain got a false case filed by Mobarak, an associate of him, against Nazrul," the HC said.
"From the materials on record, it transpires that to perpetrate the occurrence, the accused-persons Nur Hossain, Lt Col Tarek Syeed Mohammad and Major (retired) Arif Hossain had meetings at different times prior to the occurrence and that they conspired in that regard and the convicted-accused Lt Commander MM Rana became a part to it which is evident from his activities on the date of the occurrence.
"From the discussion made here above, it is clear that the accused-persons namely, Nur Hossain, Lt Col Tarek Syeed Mohammad, Lt Commander MM Rana and Major (retired) Arif Hossain under a criminal conspiracy abducted, murdered and made disappearance of evidence of the alleged offence of murder and as such, the charge under section 120B of the Penal Code was framed rightly against the said accused-persons and were rightly found guilty under that sections by the trial court," the HC said in the full text of the judgement.
The convicts, Tarek Syeed Mohammad, Arif Hossain, Masud Rana, Nur Hossain, Nayek Md Bellal Hossain, Habilder Md Emdadul Haque, ROG Md Arif Hossain, Lance Nayek Md Hira Mia, Sepoy Md Abu Taiyab, Constable Md Shihab Uddin, SI Purnendu Bala, Sainik Md Abdul Alim (absconding), Sainik Mahiuddin Munshi, Sainik Alamin Sharif and Sepoy Tajul Islam were involved in the pre-panned murder "without provocation from the victims' side".
"This court opines that they deserve capital punishment in the case and as such, the trial court rightly imposed capital punishment i.e. death sentence upon them," the HC said.
"On consideration of the nature of the role played in the murder, the sentence of death as awarded to the condemned-prisoners namely Sainik Md Asaduzzaman Noor, Sergeant Enamul Kabir, Md Mortuza Zaman Churchil, Ali Mohammad, Md Mizanur Rahman Dipu alias Mizan, Md Raham Ali, Md Abul Bashar, Salim (absconding), Md Sanaulla, Manager Shahjahan and Jamal Uddin appears to this court to be harsh and severe and as such, this court is inclined to commute the death sentence as awarded to the said convicted-accused-persons to a sentence of imprisonment for life and also with fine."
It observed that in the case, the accused Rab personnel acted illegally with individual responsibility and upon personal interest. So, the Rab as a whole did not commit the alleged offence, the HC said in the full judgement.