A Dhaka court on Thursday sentenced 10 people to life imprisonment in the much-talked-about journalist Gautam Das murder case.
The lifers are—Asif Imran, Kazi Md Murad, Md Siddiqur Rahman, Md Tamjid Hossain Babu, Md Asif Imtiaz Bulu, Md Kamrul Islam, Md Rajib Hasan Mona, Taher Murtaza, Zahid Khan and Md Asad Bin Kadir. The court also fined them Tk50,000 each; in default they are to serve one more year in jail.
Of the 10, eight are currently in jail and one accused Abu Taher Murtaza, alias Apollo, is absconding after being granted bail from the High Court. Another accused, Zahid Khan, has already died.
Speedy Trial Tribunal 1 judge Shahed Nur Uddin pronounced the verdict in the case on Thursday afternoon.
Gautam, 33, Faridpur bureau chief of the Dainik Samakal, was murdered by assailants in his office on November 17, 2005.
Hasanuzzaman, Faridpur district correspondent of the national daily, filed a murder case with the Faridpur Kotwali police station the next day.
Speedy Trial Tribunal 1 judge Shahed Nur Uddin recorded the closing arguments on Wednesday and set June 27 for pronouncing the verdict.
Investigation officer (IO) of the case, Golam Nabi, who is the sub-inspector of the Faridpur Kotwali police station, pressed charges against the accused in January 2006. The judge of Faridpur district and session judge's court took cognizance of the charge sheet on the same day.
Three of the accused – Asad Bin Kadir, Abu Taher Murtaza and Tamjid Hossain Babu – gave confessional statements before the court, admitting their involvement in the murder under section 164 of the Bangladesh penal code.
In the charge sheet, the IO said the national daily ran a news item on corruption and irregularities in the repair work of a road in Faridpur, which infuriated the accused, leading to Gautam’s planned murder.
The solicitor wing of the ministry of law transferred the case to Dhaka Speedy Tribunal Court 1 after one year, in August 2006.
An accused, Siddiqur Rahman, filed a writ petition to the high court challenging the legality of the transfer of the case in November 2007. However, the apex court rejected the petition.
The court has examined a total of 27 prosecution witnesses so far.
Among others, the editor of the Daily Samakal, Golam Sarwar was present during the hearing. He expressed dissatisfaction with the verdict. However, he did not told journalists on the court premises that whether he would go to the higher court.