Justice kept in wait | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, November 03, 2010 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, November 03, 2010

Justice kept in wait

Govt takes no step yet for retrial


Garlands are placed around the photographs of the four slain national leaders kept inside the prison cell they were confined to at Dhaka Central Jail. The place of their murder has recently been turned into a museum. The photo in focus is of Syed Nazrul Islam. The nation observes jail killing day today. On this day in 1975, national leaders Syed Nazrul Islam, Tajuddin Ahmad, AHM Quamruzzaman and Capt Mansur Ali were killed.File

The Awami League government has done nothing significant in the last 22 months to clear the way for a fresh trial of the jail killing case despite the party's 2008 election pledge to bring the murderers to justice.
The only thing the government could do, since it assumed power on January 6, 2009, was to file petitions with the Appellate Division to get permission to appeal against the High Court verdict. The verdict on August 28, 2008 acquitted six former military men of the murder charges.
But the attorney general's office that filed the petitions on September 14 last year did not move for holding the hearing of the petitions in more than a year.
Today is the Jail Killing Day.
The nation will mourn for Syed Nazrul Islam, Tajuddin Ahmad, AHM Quamruzzaman and Captain Mansur Ali, all shot dead following repeated bayonet charges in Dhaka Central Jail on this day in 1975.
They were sent to jail soon after the August 15, 1975 bloodbath that claimed the lives of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and most of his family members.
The four led the country's independence war while Sheikh Mujib was detained by the Pakistan army.
An assistant attorney general told The Daily Star yesterday on condition of anonymity, they didn't get any instruction from the government to proceed with the jail killing case.
“Therefore, we have been busy with some other cases in over last one and half years,” he said.
A legal expert said the attorney general, the highest law officer of the republic, is a link between the executive and the judiciary. But he has no role in forming government policies.
The government's indifference to move for holding retrial of the jail killing case runs counter to AL's pledges during its campaign for the ninth parliamentary election on December 29, 2008.
In its election manifesto, which largely contributed to the overwhelming victory of AL-led grand alliance in the polls, promised to execute verdict of the Bangabandhu murder case, hold retrial of jail killings and punish people responsible for the grenade attack on AL chief Sheikh Hasina in a rally on August 21, 2004 after investigation.
Five convicted killers of Bangabandhu were hanged on January 27 this year following the apex court's verdict. Reinvestigation of the August 21 grenade attack case also began on August 3 last year.
Justice for the jail killing has not been served yet.
LGRD Minister Syed Ashraful Islam, son of Syed Nazrul Islam, yesterday said the government would soon take measures to ensure the retrial of jail killing case.
“We are examining the ways how a fresh trial can be started. People will see the progress within a few days,” said Ashraf, also the AL general secretary.
Mohammad Nasim, son of Quamruzzaman, said they didn't get justice due to the farce of justice in the past.
“We rejected the verdict delivered by the trial court and High Court. We want a retrial during this government's tenure,” Nasim, also a ruling AL leader, told The Daily Star yesterday.
Tanjim Ahmad Sohel Taj, son of Tajuddin Ahmad, said: “As family members we feel justice should be served for the well fare of the nation. We hope the retrial of the jail killing case will begin soon.”
However, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam on Monday told The Daily Star his office would very soon take initiatives for hearing of the appeals challenging the High Court verdict that acquitted the six.
The next target of his office is to have the HC verdict cancelled as it was flawed. So, he said, the trail can start afresh.
"The nation wants the killers of the four leaders to be punished. My office will approach the Appellate Division within a very short time for holding hearing on the appeals in the case," the attorney general said.
He said he could not move to dispose of this case, since he was busy with some other important issues including Bangabandhu murder case, the fifth amendment to the constitution and the allotment of Khaleda Zia's cantonment house.
On September 14 last year, the attorney general's office filed the leave-to-appeal petitions on behalf of the government with the apex court against the 2008 HC ruling.
An assistant attorney general recently said the appeals pointed out many grounds upon which the SC can rescind the HC verdict. There is evidence that the acquitted army men had plotted the killing of the four leaders, he added.
He said the HC delivered its verdict disbelieving the statements of almost all the witnesses who said the accused persons were directly involved in the killing of the four national leaders inside Dhaka Central Jail.
The HC judgment accepted the allegations against only one accused, Risaldar (retd) Muslemuddin, who is still on the run, and upheld his death sentence, he said.
The acquitted army men include Lt Col (dismissed) Syed Farooq Rahman, Lt Col (retd) Sultan Shahriar Rashid Khan, Major (retd) AKM Mohiuddin Ahmed and Major (retd) Bazlul Huda.
Being held convicted, they have been executed on January 27 this year following the Supreme Court verdict in Bangabandhu killing case.
The HC in the verdict also acquitted Dafadar (dismissed) Marfat Ali Shah and Dafadar (dismissed) Abdul Hashem Mridha who were sentenced to death by a trial court. Farooq, Shahriar, Huda and Muhiuddin Ahmed were given life imprisonment.
Marfat Ali and Abdul Hashem are absconding.
Earlier, a Dhaka court on October 20, 2004 sentenced three to death and awarded life imprisonment to 12 and acquitted five in the long-awaited verdict of the jail killing case.
The then ruling BNP lawmaker KM Obaidur Rahman, Shah Moazzem Hossain, Nurul Islam Manzoor, Taheruddin Thakur and the then additional secretary to foreign ministry Major (retd) Khairuzzaman were relived of the charge. Interestingly, all of them were freed on bail soon after BNP-Jamaat led coalition came to power in October 2001.
CASE BACKGROUND
In the first information report (FIR) filed with Lalbagh Police Station on November 4, 1975, Kazi Abdul Awal, deputy inspector general (prisons), accused Captain Moslemuddin and four army officers of the November 3 killings.
The Indemnity Ordinance blocked the investigation and trial for about 21 years until officers of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) opened a probe on August 18, 1996 following scrapping of the black law during the Awami League government's rule.
Investigation officer Abdul Kahar Akand, assistant superintendent of CID, arrested Syed Farooq Rahman, Sultan Shahriar Rashid and Khairuzzaman on September 9, 1996.
The IO also arrested Shah Moazzem, KM Obaid and Manzoor on September 29, 1996. Taheruddin, shown as an arrestee in the case on November 3, 1996, gave a confessional statement.
The trial court framed charges against KM Obaid and 20 others on October 12, 2000 and began its trial on April 12, 2001.

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