DB Informer Jalal Killing: Trial stuck in legal limbo
Despite many summons, police have failed to produce any witness since May 25, 2015, which is delaying trial proceedings.
The half-decomposed body of Jalal, who drove the car of Detective Branch (DB) of police, was recovered from the overhead water tank of DB's Minto Road headquarters on March 25, 1999.
A case was filed in the same year over the murder of the DB informant. But some 23 years on, the trial proceedings of the case is yet to be wrapped up. After running for a while, the case simply got stuck in limbo for the last seven years due to the prosecution's failure to produce witnesses before the court.
The trial began on March 12, 2001, with 23 out of 49 prosecution witnesses giving their depositions before the court till May 25, 2015. Two key witnesses -- investigation officer Munshi Atiqur Rahman and a rickshaw-puller Iman Ali -- partially testified during this time. But the case has not seen any further progress since then due to the non-appearance of witnesses and negligence of officials concerned, according to the prosecution.
The court has issued non-bailable warrants several times against rest of the witnesses, including victim's son Abbas Uddin and daughter Fatema Chowdhury Popi, for failing to comply with court orders, but they still did not show up, said court sources.
Shaiful Islam Helal, additional public prosecutor at the Fourth Additional Metropolitan Sessions Judge's Court of Dhaka (where the case is now pending for disposal) said, police are the only agency obliged to produce witnesses before the court as per provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
"Despite many summons, police have failed to produce any witness since May 25, 2015, which is delaying trial proceedings," he added.
The Daily Star spoke to investigator Munshi Atiqur Rahman over the phone on January 27.
Atiqur claimed that he did not get any court summons for testimony for a long time, with no one informing him about the depositions.
"I am now living at my village home in Faridpur. I cannot move well due to illness as well as old age complications," said Atiqur, who was convicted in the August 21 grenade attack case on October 10, 2018.
State lawyer Helal said the court's summons were sent to the address of the victim's son Abbas and daughter Fatema mentioned in the case documents, but they never showed up.
"What can we do if they don't come to the court?" he added.
The Daily Star correspondents recently visited said address of the two in Lalmatia, but found that they did not live there. The people in the tin-roofed house could not say where they live now.
Delwar Hossain, a laundryman, who has been living near the house since 1999, said, "Jalal lived here on rent. Soon after his death, his family members moved to another place. I don't know where."
As per rules, the court sent the summons to the police station concerned, asking them to produce the witnesses before the court.
Contacted, OC Abdul Latif of Mohammadpur Police Station, the station concerned for producing Jalal's children, said, "Police did not get any court's summons related to this murder case in the immediate past."
A day after the recovery of Jalal's body, SM Ali Azam Siddiqui, a sub-inspector of Ramna Police Station, filed the murder case against some unknown persons, following an autopsy report stating that the victim was dumped into the water tank after killing.
On May 27 of 1999, Munshi Atiqur Rahman, then assistant superintendent of police at Criminal Investigation Department (CID), pressed charges against four DB cops and another person.
The accused are DB Inspector Ziaul Ahsan, Habildar Billal Hossain, constables Abdur Rauf and Abdul Malek, and DB office canteen director Anwar Hossain.
On August 9 that year, the court framed charges against the accused.
Of the accused, Ziaul, Billal and Rauf are now on bail, while Malek and Anwar are absconding.
According to case documents, accused Ziaul Ahsan used Jalal as a source to collect information about gold and drug smuggling.
Following a tip off from the victim, the accused detained the smugglers and seized illegal goods.
As Jalal was "deprived of his share," he changed his position and started providing information to other DB members.
Ziaul became angry at that. On March 21 night, he reportedly killed Jalal on the rooftop of the DB office after calling him out of his home. He later hid the body inside the water tank with the help of other accused.
On March 31 that year, Jalal's family identified his body at Birdem Hospital.