The High Court on Tuesday upheld death penalty for 15 out of 26 death-row convicts, commuting penalty for 11 others in sensational Narayanganj seven -murder case.
The High Court division bench comprising Justice Bhabani Prasad Singha and Justice Mustafa Zaman Islam passed the order after holding hearing on the appeals and death reference in the case that took place in 2014.
The bench gave the verdict for 15 convicts including Awami League leader and ex-city councillor Noor Hossain, the then Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) commanding officer in Narayanganj Lieutenant Colonel Tarek Sayeed Mohammad and RAB officers Major Arif Hossain and Lieutenant Commander Masud Rana.
The others who would walk to the gallows are Lance Naik Md Belal Hossain, Habildar Md Emdadul Huq, Md Arif Hossain, Lance Naik Md Hira Miah, Sepoy Abu Taiyb, Constable Md Shehabuddin, Sub-Inspector Purnendu Bala, Sepoy Md Abdul Alim, Sepoy Mohiuddin Munshi, Sepoy Al Amin Sharif, and Sepoy Md Tajul Islam. Among them, Tajul, Al Amin and Mohiuddin are absconding.
The court also commuted death sentence handed down to another 11 people by a trial court, to life imprisonment.
“RAB is an elite force. Its duty is to protect peoples' lives and property.
It is always loyal to the state. Thus for illegal activities of a couple of miscreant members, we cannot hold the whole force (RAB) liable,” the court said in its observation.
Hailing the court verdict Nazrul Islam's widow Selina Islam Beauty said, "We are satisfied as they (killers) have got appropriate punishment for their misdeeds and now we want quick implementation of the verdict."
Another victim Tajul Islam's father, Abul Khayer, said, "We are eagerly waiting for the execution of the verdict."
Condemned to death Noor Hosen's lawyer SRM Lutfur Rahman Akanda said, “We are very much disappointed for the death sentence awarded to him as none of the 107 witnesses pronounced his name at all. Thus we disagree with the court’s decision and are going to appeal to the higher court."
During the hearing, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam pleaded to uphold lower court judgment against the convicts. "It was a pre-planned and monstrous crime. Justice was ensured and people got their trust back in law enforcement agencies by that judgment," he said.
On 16 January this year, a Narayanganj court sentenced 26 people, including three sacked RAB officials and ex-city councillor Nur Hossain, to death and nine others to different jail terms in the two cases filed over the murders.
On 27 April in 2014, seven people, including Narayanganj city corporation panel mayor Nazrul Islam, his three associates, his driver along with senior lawyer at the District Judge’s Court Chandan Kumar Sarkar and his driver were abducted from the Dhaka-Narayanganj link road of Fatullah area.
On 28 April 2014, a case was filed over case filed over kidnapping Narayanganj panel mayor Nazrul Islam, his three associates and driver were abducted from Fatullah area.
Three days after the abduction, bodies of six of the missing people were found floating in the Shitalakkhya river on 30 April 2014 while the body of the rest abducted man was found floating in the river on 31 April.
The victims --Nazrul Islam, Chandan Kumar Sarker and Moniruzzaman Swapan, Tajul Islam, Liton, Jahangir Alam and Ibrahim -- found dead on the river Shitalakshya on 30 April and 1 May, 2014.
There was extra security vigil in and around the court marking the pronouncement of the verdict in the sensational trial. Even the entry of the journalists was restricted citing the security. Extra members of different law enforcing agencies were posted on each entry and exit points of the court. Earlier on August 13, the High Court reset August 22 to pass its judgment on the appeals and death reference in the case lodged over sensational seven-murder in Narayanganj in 2014.
The High Court on May 22 had started its hearing in the matter with the reading out of paper book in the case and concluded its hearing on July 26.
Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha on May 17 assigned the High Court bench to hear the case as the around 6000-page paper book reached the apex court on May 7 after getting printed at the BG Press.
All the documents of the case were sent to the High Court on January 22. The High Court on February 8 received the appeals of the convicts. After that, Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha ordered the department concerned of the High Court Division to prepare the paper book of the case on a priority basis.