Shazneen murder case, long legal battle |
Chaitanya Chandra Halder and Shamim Ashraf
It took two years, 10 months and eight days to wrap up the sensational Shazneen murder case at the death reference bench.
The High Court Death Reference Bench confirmed yesterday that domestic help Shahid raped and killed Shazneen with assistance from Badal, and maids Estema Khatun Minu amd Parvin according to a plan hatched by a construction contractor Syed Sajjad Mainuddin Hasan alias Azad.
The Second Special Tribunal for Prevention of Women and Children Repression, Dhaka on September 2, 2003 convicted all the six of raping and killing Shazneen.
On June 27 this year both the prosecution and the defence completed their arguments and made submissions to the High Court (HC). The prosecution requested the court to uphold the lower court verdict while the defence pleaded to acquit the convicts of the charges.
TRIAL IN THE LOWER COURT
The much-talked about judgement in Shazneen murder case was delivered by the lower court on September 2, 2003 -- five years four months and ten days after the brutal rape and murder of the victim.
In the verdict, the judge sentenced all the six accused to death for killing the victim after raping her.
The convicts are victim's domestic help Shahidul Islam alias Shahid, contractor Syed Sajjad Mainuddin Hasan, his assistant Badal, carpenter Shaniram Mandal and two maids--Estema Khatun Minu and Parvin.
The trial of the case was completed in 127 workdays that began on July 9, 2000 with deposition of complainant Mojibur Rahman.
Shazneen Tasnim Rahman, 15, a student of class nine of Scholastica School and the youngest daughter of Latifur Rahman, chairman of Transcom Limited, was raped and killed at their Gulshan residence in Dhaka on April 23, 1998.
Rahman filed a murder case the following day with Gulshan police station, accusing Shahidul Islam alias Shahid, a domestic help at his residence.
In the FIR, Rahman said he had last talked to his daughter in her ground floor bedroom at about 8:00pm on the night of the murder. Then he went to the first floor where a party was being hosted for some of his friends. Shazneen stayed back in her room.
She was stabbed at least 20 times. A three-inch-deep wound was found in the neck.
At about 10:15pm, Rahman came downstairs after hearing the scream of an old domestic help Moslem Hawlader and found Shazneen lying on the floor in front of the bathroom attached to her bedroom. The victim's father examined her pulse and found her dead.
As Rahman raised an alarm, the guests and other people in the house rushed to the spot. On inquiry, it was found that one of the servants, Shahid, son of Siddiq Mollah of village Danga Durgapur in Gopalganj district, was missing. One of the four kitchen knives was also missing, Rahman said in the FIR.
As per the arguments of the prosecution, at about 3:30pm on April 1, 1998 contractor Syed Sajjad Mainuddin Hasan entered Shazneen's bedroom and asked her to show the defective mirror in the bathroom about which she had earlier complained.
As she entered the bathroom to show him the mirror, Hasan tried to grope her. Shazneen pushed him aside and warned him that she would report it to her parents to punish him. Hasan became angry and left.
On April 2, Shazneen along with her two sisters -- Simeen Hossain and Shahzreh Haq Shehzi -- and their children went to visit Marina Tea garden at Kulaura in Sylhet.
On April 3, Shazneen's parents went on a visit to Shillong in India. Hasan, contractor for renovations to Rahman's residence, enticed Shahid with offer of money to rape and kill Shazneen as she had humiliated him on April 1.
On April 4, Simeen's husband Waqar Hossain and Shehzi's husband Arshadul Haq also went to Kulaura. Shazneen narrated the April 1 incident to them. They decided to report it to Rahman and his wife after their return.
On April 5, Hasan showed his assistant Badal, the victim's domestic help Shahid and a carpenter Shaniram the bedroom of Shazneen. On the same day Hasan and Badal paid Tk 50,000 to Shahid, guard Humayun Kabir (now dead) and maids Minu and Parvin to commit the crime.
On April 16, Shazneen and her relatives returned to her elder sister's Baridhara residence concluding their Sylhet visit.
On April 18, Shazneen's parents returned home from Shillong and brought Shazneen home from her sister's house. But as his wife fell sick and Rahman became busy taking care of her, the children decided to report the April 1 incident at a later date.
In the afternoon of April 21, Simeen along with Shazneen went to Gulshan market and in the evening Shazneen found Hasan and started shouting at him, saying how he dared to come before her. Simeen calmed her.
At 5:00pm on April 23, Shehzi went to her parents' Gulshan residence and she along with Shazneen went upstairs to see preparations for a party later that night. They saw Hasan standing in the verandah. Shazneen became agitated seeing Hasan there and asked him to leave the spot. At about 7:00pm Shehzi went to her elder sister's Baridhara residence.
At about 8:00pm on the same day, Rahman went to Shazneen's bedroom and found her reading and the TV on. He told her to have dinner and to go to bed. That was the last time he saw her.
Rahman then went upstairs where guests for the party were gathering. Later on the night, he heard cries from downstairs, came down and found old domestic help Moslem Hawlader crying and saying what happened to Chhota Baby (nickname of Shazneen). Rahman then rushed to Shazneen's room and found her lying on the floor in front of the bathroom.
Her body bore multiple injury marks and blood was all over the room. On the left side of her neck there was a deep wound. He then cried out saying Shazneen was killed.
Primary investigation showed that Shahid fled the house after raping and killing Shazneen between 8:00pm and 10:15pm. Rahman also suspected that some others were involved in it.
On April 25, Sub-Inspector Shamsul Haq, the first investigation officer of the case, recovered a bloodstained knife from the western side of the victim's residence in presence of domestic help Moslem and cook Abdul Mannan. The knife was used to kill the victim.
On April 27, 1998, Shahid, the prime accused who had been absconding since the rape and murder, surrendered to the Kotwali police in Chittagong. Police brought him to Dhaka for interrogation on the same day.
The accused was taken to the place where Shazneen was murdered. Shahid narrated to police, the victim's father and other family members how and at whose instigation Shazneen was raped and murdered. The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of police took over the charge of the investigation into the murder case on the same day.
On May 13, Shahid gave a confessional statement to a metropolitan magistrate in which he narrated the tragic incident and involvement of others.
On May 27, the CID took accused Humayun to Rahman's house and on the basis of information gathered from him recovered a chisel from the roof of a servants' toilet. Humayun said Shaniram gave the chisel to him and it was used in the killing.
On September 27, Shahid was taken to the house of Rahman again where he narrated the chronology of the killing. Shahid said Hasan and Badal hired him, Humayun, Parvin, Minu and Shaniram to rape and kill Shazneen.
Shahid also told them that on April 3, Hasan asked him to rape and kill Shazneen. At about 10:00pm on April 23, he along with Parvin and Humayun entered her bedroom. Shahid was armed with a kitchen knife while Humayun with the chisel.
Shahid said he stabbed Shazneen with the knife, while Humayun hit her with the chisel. Parvin grabbed Shazneen by the hair. The three then pulled Shazneen down from the bed. Shahid raped her in this condition, then came out of the room with the bloodstained knife, threw it near the tin-shed where Shaniram used to stay and fled the house.
Shahid then met Hasan on Gulshan Avenue where Hasan was waiting in a white microbus and asked him if the job was properly done. Shahid told him that it was done as per his instruction.