SC hearing ends, verdict Nov 19 | The Daily Star
11:00 PM, November 12, 2009 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:00 PM, November 12, 2009

SC Hearing Day 29

SC hearing ends, verdict Nov 19


After 34 years of the brutal killings of Father of the Nation Bangabnadhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and most of his family members, the Appellate Division of Supreme Court (SC) will finally deliver its verdict in the murder case on November 19.
A special bench of the SC Appellate Division comprising Justice Md Tafazzul Islam, Justice Md Abdul Aziz, Justice BK Das, Justice Md Muzammel Hossain, and Justice SK Sinha will deliver the verdict.
After hearing for 29 days the appeals filed by five condemned convicts in the case challenging their convictions and sentences, the apex court scheduled the date for judgement.
Convicts Lt Col (sacked) Syed Farooq-ur Rahman, Lt Col (retd) Sultan Shahriar Rashid Khan, Lt Col (retd) Muhiuddin Ahmed, Lt Col (retd) AKM Mohiuddin Ahmed, and Maj (retd) Bazlul Huda, who are now behind bars, filed the appeals with the apex court in October 2007 against their convictions and death sentences by a lower court.
After the judgement date was fixed by the court yesterday, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam and chief state counsel for the case Advocate Anisul Huq hoped that the apex court will deliver a historic judgement, and there will be no reason for any side to be dissatisfied with the verdict.
Advocate Khan Saifur Rahman, the lawyer for convicts Syed Farooqur Rahman and Muhiuddin Ahmed, and Advocate Abdur Razzaque Khan, the lawyer for Sultan Shahriar Rashid Khan, however declined to make any comment when asked if they were optimistic about getting justice.
ARGUMENTS OF COUNSELS
Advocates Khan Saifur Rahman and Abdur Razzaque Khan placed submissions before the court during the last day's hearing yesterday.
Khan Saifur Rahman told the court that the incidents of August 15, 1975 were the result of a mutiny in the army, and killing Bangabandhu was not its purpose.
He cited an interview given by convicts Farooq and Lt Col (retd) Khandaker Abdur Rashid to Granada Television, where they described the incidents as a mutiny.
He argued that the case should be retried in a military court under the Army Act. He also said the state counsels failed to give any satisfactory explanation for the delay in filing of the case.
Abdur Razzaque Khan claimed that Sultan Shahriar Rashid Khan was not among those who had gone to Bangabandhu's house on August 15, 1975 and he did not have any connection with the incidents.
The main theme of the defence during the whole hearing was that the incidents of August 15, 1975 were the result of a mutiny, and should be retried in a military court following scrapping of the current convictions and sentences of the defendants.
The state on the other hand argued that the incidents were pre-planned murders to wipe out an entire family, and the High Court verdict upholding the lower court convictions and death sentences should also be upheld by the SC Appellate Division.
MEDIA BRIEFING BY STATE COUNSELS
Mahbubey Alam and Anisul Huq yesterday at a media briefing in the auditorium of the Supreme Court Bar Association told reporters that the nation is eagerly waiting for the verdict in this case.
Barrister Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh, one of the state counsels, said he would also be waiting for the November 19 verdict along with the nation.
Taposh is a son of Sheikh Fazlul Haque Moni, who was also killed on August 15, 1975.
Abdul Matin Khasru said the path to the trial of Bangabandhu's murder was opened on November 12, 1996 by the revocation of the Indemnity Ordinance.
"The trial of the killings has concluded after 34 years. We hope we will get justice," he added.
RECENT HEARINGS
On October 5, the Appellate Division started hearing the appeals on five points -- whether Bangabandhu was killed along with most of his family members as a result of a mutiny in the army; whether the witness statements were contradictory; whether the delay in filing the first information report had been reasonable as thought by the lower court; whether there was any conspiracy behind the murders; and whether disposal of the death references appeals of six defendants out of 15 by the 3rd judge in the High Court was correct and legal.
Earlier on September 23, 2007, a three-judge special bench of the Appellate Division comprising Justice Md Tafazzul Islam, Justice Md Joynul Abedin, and Justice Md Hassan Ameen granted the leave to appeal petitions filed by the five convicts.
VERDICTS OF TRIAL COURT, HIGH COURT
On November 8, 1998, Dhaka Sessions Judge Golam Rasul handed down death sentences to 15 of the 20 defendants in the case.
The condemned were Lt Col (dismissed) Syed Farooq-ur Rahman, Lt Col (retd) Sultan Shahriar Rashid Khan, Lt Col (retd) Muhiuddin Ahmed, Lt Col (retd) AKM Mahiuddin Ahmed, Maj (retd) Bazlul Huda, Lt Col (retd) Khandaker Abdur Rashid, Maj (retd) Shariful Haque Dalim, Maj (retd) Ahmed Shariful Hossain, Lt Col (retd) AM Rashed Chowdhury, Lt Col (retd) SHMB Noor Chowdhury, Lt Col (retd) Md Abdul Aziz Pasha, Capt (retd) Md Kismat Hashem, Capt (retd) Nazmul Hossain Ansar, Capt (retd) Abdul Mazed, and Risaldar (retd) Moslemuddin.
A division bench of the High Court comprising Justice Md Ruhul Amin and Justice ABM Khairul Haque on December 14, 2000, delivered split verdicts on death reference appeals in the case.
First judge Justice Md Ruhul Amin upheld the death sentences of 10 and acquitted five -- Muhiuddin Ahmed, Ahmed Shariful Hossain, Md Kismat Hashem, Nazmul Hossain Ansar, and Moslemuddin.
Second judge Justice ABM Khairul Haque upheld the death sentences of all 15 convicts.
On January 15, 2001, Justice Mohammad Fazlul Karim was appointed as the third judge to adjudicate the appeals.
He delivered the final High Court verdict in the case on April 30, 2001, affirming the convictions and death sentences of 12 of the 15 defendants. The three that he acquitted are Md Kismat Hashem, Ahmed Shariful Hossain, and Nazmul Hossain Ansar.
DELAY IN ADJUDICATING APPEALS
The High Court bench of Justice Md Ruhul Amin and Justice ABM Khairul Haque started hearing the death reference appeals on June 28, 2000 and concluded the hearing on November 28, 2000.
Attorney General Mahbubey Alam yesterday told The Daily Star that the adjudication of the case was delayed at the High Court because seven judges were embarrassed to hear the case, without giving any clear cut explanation.
The hearing of the case was also delayed at the Appellate Division due to shortage of judges there, he said.
Then BNP-led four-party alliance government did not appoint judges to the Appellate Division to constitute a bench for the purpose, although a chief justice had recommended appointing judges for disposal of the case.
Sources said condemned convict Khandaker Abdur Rashid is hiding in Libya, Shariful Haque Dalim is in Pakistan, Rashed Chowdhury is in the US, Noor Chowdhury is in Germany, Abdul Mazed and Moslemuddin are in India.
Another condemned Aziz Pasha died in Zimbabwe, according to the sources.

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