Published: Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Verdict on Jail Killing Case Appeal

Three ex-army men to die

SC upholds lower court judgment, finds 'conspiracy' behind killing 4 national leaders 38 years ago

The Supreme Court yesterday upheld the death penalty of three former army personnel and life term imprisonment of eight others, 38 years into the killing of four national leaders inside the Dhaka Central Jail.
The verdict is exceptional compared to the earlier judgements delivered by the lower court in 2004 and the High Court in 2008 since the SC has found allegations of conspiracy behind the killing of the four national heroes on November 3, 1975.
The lower court and the HC did not find any conspiracy behind the heinous killings.
The lower court awarded death penalty to three convicts and life term imprisonment to 12 others, while the HC awarded death sentence to one, acquitted six and did not say anything about the rest.
The three convicts who were awarded death penalty yesterday are Risalder (retd) Muslemuddin, Dafadar (dismissed) Marfat Ali Shah and Dafadar (dismissed) Abdul Hashem Mridha.
The eight convicts who were handed down life term imprisonment are Lt Col (dismissed) Khondaker Abdur Rashid, Lt Col (relieved) Shariful Haq Dalim, Lt Col (retd) SHMB Noor Chowdhury, Lt Col (retd) AM Rashed Chowdhury, Maj (relieved) Ahmed Shariful Hossain, Capt (retd) Abdul Majed, Capt (relieved) Kismat Hasem and Capt (relieved) Nazmul Hossain.
All the convicts are on the run.
The SC delivered the verdict after allowing the government to file an appeal challenging the HC verdict in the case filed for killing the four national leaders — Syed Nazrul Islam, Tajuddin Ahmad, AHM Quamruzzaman and Captain Mansur Ali.
The six-member bench of the Appellate Division headed by Chief Justice Md Muzammel Hossain also turned down the HC judgement, saying the allegations of conspiracy against the convicts had been proved before them.
“Appeal is allowed. Judgment of the High Court Division set aside so far it relates to the respondent. The judgment of the trial court is maintained,” the court said in the short verdict.
After the verdict, Anisul Huq, principal state counsel of the case, told The Daily Star that the case had been settled through the apex court verdict.
“I will request the government and the authorities specifically concerned to take steps and approach all avenues to get the convicts back to the country to execute the apex court verdict,” he said.
Attorney General Mahbubey Alam said the SC verdict would act as consolation for the nation as all convicted killers are fugitive.
Captain Mansur Ali’s son Awami League leader Mohammad Nasim, who was present in the SC, expressed satisfaction with the verdict, saying justice had been done although it was late.
“We had to wait for around 38 years for this verdict. We wanted punishment for the killers of four national leaders,” he said.
Talking to The Daily Star, AHM Kamaruzzaman’s son and Rajshahi Mayor AHM Khairuzzaman Liton demanded bringing back the fugitives from abroad to execute the verdict.
He said, “We are hopeful about execution of the verdict after the Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s judgement.”
Abdullah Al Mamun, counsel for convicts Marfat Ali and Abul Hashem Mridha, said he would file two separate review petitions with the SC against the verdict after getting its full text.
The SC yesterday affirmed the judgement of Dhaka Metropolitan Judge’s court which on October 20, 2004 convicted and sentenced three army personnel — Muslemuddin, Marfat Ali Shah and Abdul Hashem Mridha — to death and handed down life term imprisonment to 12 others.
Of the 12 convicts, four — Lt Col (dismissed) Syed Farooq-ur Rahman, Lt Col (retd) Sultan Shahriar Rashid Khan, Maj (retd) Bazlul Huda and Maj (retd) AKM Mohiuddin Ahmed — were already executed in the Bangabandhu assassination case.
On August 28, 2008, the HC upheld the capital punishment of Muslemuddin and acquitted Marfat and Hashem. It also acquitted Farooq, Shahriar, Mohiuddin and Bazlul Huda.
The HC did not say anything about the eight others who got life term imprisonment from the SC yesterday.
The government filed an appeal with the SC in 2009 against the HC verdict, appealing to the SC to uphold the trial court’s verdict.
In 2011, the SC exempted Farooq, Shahriar, Mohiuddin and Bazlul Huda from the case as they were already executed.