Vol. 5 Num 149 Thu. October 21, 2004  
Front Page

Top lawyers term it politically manoeuvred

Eminent lawyers yesterday termed the judgment in the historic Jail Killing Case politically manoeuvred and said the judgment virtually amounts to maintaining the status quo regarding the accused.

Many of the lawyers even reacted sharply to the judgment. It is not at all acceptable, they observed.

Some, however, viewed it as at least a step forward when the trial had been stalled for decades by political interventions and judicial tangles.

Dhaka Metropolitan Sessions Judge's Court yesterday in the historic jail killing case sentenced three retired non-commissioned army officers to death and 12 retired senior military officers to life imprisonment. The court acquitted five accused of murder of four national leaders in Dhaka Central Jail.

The three, who were awarded death sentence, are fugitives. Of the 12,who got life sentence, the same punishment they received in the Bangabandhu Murder Case, three are behind bars while the rest are on the run.

Of the acquitted, four are out on bail now while the other one has recently been promoted to the rank of additional secretary.

Dr Kamal Hossain yesterday told The Daily Star that the judgment raises many a question.

"First, I want to go through the text of the judgment in detail tomorrow (Thursday), and then I will elaborate on my reaction to it," he added.

Dr M Zahir, another esteemed lawyer, said: "It's a strange coincidence that the judgment seems to have maintained the status quo regarding the accused."

He, however, said he heard that there was no direct evidence linking Shah Moazzem Hossain and Nurul Islam Manzur to the Jail Killings, and the judge might acquit them on the grounds of insufficient evidence.

And now, if the state feels, it may appeal against the judgment, he added.

Referring to the long delay in the trial, Zahir said it was a sheer indifference to the honour of the departed souls of the four leaders and painful experience for the family members. Still, at last a step has been taken forward through yesterday's judgment, he said.

Terming the judgement politically manoeuvred, Advocate Anisul Haque, former special public prosecutor of the case, said the verdict contradicts the evidence on record and it can not be acceptable.

"Section 302 of the Bangladesh Penal Code says capital punishment is the penalty for murder, but I am surprised that nine of the accused who have been sentenced to death in another criminal case (Bangabandhu Murder Case), were awarded life term imprisonment here," Anisul told The Daily Star.

Anisul, who had resigned from the special public prosecutor post under duress allegedly on the part of the government, wondered how they (the 12 who got life sentence) were sentenced to life instead of death sentence.

"Were there any mitigating circumstances that a person is awarded life imprisonment when the murder is proved?"

"To put it in a nutshell, the judgment is nothing but a document of maintaining the status quo regarding the accused," Anisul added.