REF: A Dhaka court has sentenced eight accused in the Biswajit Das murder case to death.Dhaka’s Speedy Trial Tribunal-4 also awarded life sentence to 13 others for the role in the murder of the tailor in Old Dhaka during a blockade of the Opposition.
The murder had put the ruling Awami League in a tight spot as all those accused belonged to the party’s student affiliate, Bangladesh Chhatra League.
The case was transferred to Dhaka’s Speedy Trial Tribunal-4 from the Dhaka District Judge’s Court earlier this year for a quicker trial.
After hearing the final arguments on Dec 4, the court had set Wednesday for a verdict.
“The tribunal thinks justice will be served by awarding maximum punishment considering the extent of the crime,” the judge said in his ruling.
The eight given death sentence are Rafiqul Islam Shakil, Mahfuzur Rahman Nahid, Emdadul Haque Emdad, GM Rasheduzzaman Shawon, Saiful Islam, Kaium Mia, Rajon Talukder and Mir Nur-e Alam Limon.
Talukder and Limon are absconding.
Those who have been awarded life sentences are Golam Mostofa, AHM Kibria, Yunus Ali, Tarik Bin Johor Tomal, Alauddin, Obaidur Qader Tahsin, Imran Hossain, Azizur Rahman, Al-Amin, Rafiqul Islam, Kamrul Hasan, Monirul Haque Pavel and Mosharraf Hossain.
Only Mostofa and Kibria are behind the bars. The rest are absconding.
Those who got life sentence have also been fined Tk 20,000 each.
The 13 have been also proven guilty in another case of illegal assembly and awarded six months in jail and Tk 500 fine for each.
The sentences will be effective from the day of their arrest.
Biswajit was hacked to death by Bangladesh Chhatra League activists on Dec 9 last year near the Bahadur Shah Park in Old Dhaka during a strike called by the BNP-led 18-Party alliance.
Sutrapur Police Station Sub-Inspector Jalal Ahmed filed the case accusing 25 unknown people.
Opposition leaders had severely criticised the ruling party for accusing unidentified people even after newspapers and TV channels carried reports with photos and visuals of those who attacked Biswajit.
Reacting to the criticisms, Prime Minister’s Press Secretary Abul Kalam Azad had said that the attackers were not BCL members.
Environment minister Hasan Mahmud had also said, “Biswajit’s attackers were not Chhatra League activists, they were infiltrators.”
Meanwhile, Jagannath University (JnU) authorities expelled the students whose photos were published in the news reports amid the police investigation.
Case investigation officer Tajul Islam submitted the chargesheet against 21 people on Mar 5, three months after the murder.
Eight of the accused had been arrested while other 13 are still absconding.
The government shifted the case to the Speedy Trial Tribunal in July to expedite the trial after the chargesheet was filed.
Biswajit’s father Ananta Chandra Das and brother Uttam Kumar Das testified in the case in September at the tribunal.
They demanded capital punishment for those who killed Biswajit.
Witnesses deposed that several handmade bombs went off when an anti-blockade procession of JnU Chhatra League unit on Dec 9 reached the northern side of the Bahadur Shah Park.
Chhatra League activists from the procession chased Biswajit and attacked him.
Tajul Islam, who was the final investigation officer (IO) in the murder case, told the court, “Chhatra League activists from the procession shouted ‘grab him, grab him’ and chased Biswajit up to the Intensive Dental Care’s first floor. There, accused Shakil, Yunus and Rajon slashed him with machetes and swords.”
“Then he was brought to the ground floor where the other accused including Emdad, Nahid and Kaium beat him with metal rods and sticks.”
Biswajit tried to run away despite serious injuries, but fell down at Shankharibazar lane, rickshaw puller Ripon Sarker said in his deposition.
Sarker had rushed him to the Mitford Hospital in critical condition where doctors declared him dead.
During his deposition, Sarker also identified the arrested eight of the 21 suspects in the murder case.
Two other witnesses, transport workers Yusuf Bepari and Abdur Razzaq also identified one of the suspects, Rafiqul Islam Shakil in court.
They said they surely saw Shakil hacking at Biswajit with a machete.
The defence had tried to defer the trial process.
The High Court had also rejected a plea of six accused for suspending the trial.
Defence lawyer Syed Shah Alam was also ordered to pay Tk 1,000 for obstructing the trial process.
13 accused still on the run
A year after the murder, police have not been able to arrest most of the accused.
Though the police say they are on the run, some allege they still come to Jagannath University.
Tajul Islam claimed that they were vigilant and trying to nab the perpetrators.
Biswajit’s cousin Apu Das told bdnews24.com: “Several days have passed. If they cannot be arrested after committing murder, what are police doing? If police are sincere, how can the accused still be on the run?”
However, Tajul Islam said: “There are arrest warrants against the 13 fugitives. Those have been sent to all police stations. We are in constant touch with the police stations to catch them.”
Asked whether they are receiving any threats from the fugitives, Biswajit’s brother Uttam Kumar Das said that was not true.
He told bdnews24.com: “They [accused] are not scared as they already know that nobody will try to arrest them. Why would they threaten us if they are not facing arrests?”