Acquittal from case: Man’s 25-year ordeal comes to an end, finally
For the last 25 years, Oliar Rahman had been shuttling between Madaripur and Dhaka to appear before courts in a case filed over the death of his fellow worker.
Oliar, who was an employee of an embroidery factory at the capital's New Super Market, was only 13 when he was arrested in the case.
He spent seven months behind bars before coming out on bail. Since then, he had to appear before courts for about 150 hearings during the long trial.
And all these years, he had to endure unfathomable mental stress and bear financial burden for being accused in the case.
Finally, Oliar's ordeal came to an end yesterday as a Dhaka court acquitted him and four others of murder charges as the prosecution failed to prove the charges brought against them.
"I am the happiest person in the world now. I got justice at long last," said an emotionally-choked Oliar, now 38 and father of three daughters.
"The moment I heard the verdict, I felt that I am relieved of the agony that I had been going through since my tender age," he told The Daily Star.
Judge Monir Kamal of the Speedy Trial Tribunal-3 of Dhaka delivered the verdict around 12:20pm.
Oliar was the only accused who stood in the dock while the four others were on the run.
"I had been appearing before courts over the last 25 years. I cannot remember skipping a single hearing except one on the day after my mother's death," said the man, now an employee at an appliance showroom in Madaripur.
Every time he came to Dhaka for a hearing, he had to spend Tk 2,000 to Tk 2,500 on fares, lawyer's fees and other expenses.
DEATH OF FELLOW WORKER
Oliar came to Dhaka in 1996 to seek his fortune as his family could barely make ends meet. Through a local acquaintance, he learned embroidery work in a factory at New Super Market.
A year later, he joined the embroidery section of a small shop named Rakib Garments, owned by trader Rana Bepari.
But within three months of his joining, he was arrested in the case filed over the death of his fellow worker Shahidul Islam Titu, who also worked in the same section.
On September 6, 1997, Titu was found hanging from a ceiling fan inside the tailoring section of Rakib Garments.
Before his death, Titu was fined Tk 7,000 for allegedly stealing some garment samples from his owner's shop in an arbitration held at the market, said Oliar.
During the arbitration, Titu's brother-in-law Mohammad Jamal beat up Titu and told the arbitrators to keep him in their custody until he returned and paid the fine.
After the arbitration, Oliar brought food for Titu. After having the food, Titu went to tailoring section to take rest, pulling down the shutters. No one was working in the section at that time.
Around 5:30pm on September 6, 1997, a boy from Titu's village named Ismail came to see Titu. As Ismail opened the shutters, he found Titu hanging from a ceiling fan.
Oliar and a man named Babu brought the body down and started rubbing Titu to revive him before they took him to Dhaka Medical College Hospital. Around 10:00pm, Oliar came to know that Titu had died.
On that very night, Mohammad Jamal filed a murder case with Dhanmondi Police Station, accusing the factory owner, Rana Bepari, his three trader friends -- Mohammad Ali, Sultan Khan, and Shariful Islam Sharif -- and Oliar.
Oliar was picked up by two to three plainclothes men the next day and taken to Dhanmondi Police Station where he found Sultan and Shariful in the lockup.
The three were produced before the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate's Court of Dhaka on September 8 in the murder case.
Oliar was placed on five-day remand in two phases.
On March 31, 2002, AK Yakub Ali, then inspector of the Criminal Investigation Department, filed the charge sheet with the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate's Court against the five.
In the charge sheet, the investigator brought murder charges against the accused.
However, the autopsy report prepared by Dhaka Medical College, said Titu died of asphyxia (a condition when body is deprived of oxygen) as a result of hanging which is suicidal in nature.
The investigator, who later retired as an assistant superintendent of police, didn't mention any accused's age in the charge sheet, although Oliar was a teenager at the time of his arrest.
In 2003, the Additional Metropolitan Sessions Judge's Court-2 of Dhaka framed charges against the accused. The court recorded statements of two witnesses till October 25, 2015. It held a total of 46 hearings.
On January 5, 2016, the case was transferred to the Additional Metropolitan Sessions Judge's Court-8 of Dhaka. Another five witnesses testified before this court till March 27 last year. The court held around 40 hearings.
The case was again transferred to the Speedy Trial Tribunal-3 on June 1 last year.
Asked why he chargesheeted a child showing him as an adult, IO Yakub yesterday said he won't comment on the issue as the court already delivered a verdict in the case.