Judge SM Ziaur Rahman of the Dhaka’s Third Additional Metropolitan Sessions Judge’s Court framed the charges on July 20 and set August 4 for witness testimony.
Since then, the court fixed five dates to start depositions due to delay in submission of a report by Dhaka Medical College Hospital authorities. Moreover, the police have failed to arrest two of the accused.
On March 30, 2015, travel agency executive Oyasiqur, 27, was hacked to death with machetes by three assailants on Dipika Mosque Lane of Begunbari, close to Tejgaon Textile Engineering University, when he was going to office at Motijheel.
While fleeing, two of the killers – Zikrullah and Ariful – were held by two transgender persons as locals remained reluctant to chase the killers. The other member of the team, Abu Taher, escaped.
The duo later told the police that a “hujur” (religious scholar) had professed to kill atheists while a “Boro Bhai” gave them Oyasiqur’s photographs and the murder weapons.
Before being killed, Oyasiqur demanded quick trial in the murder of secular blogger Avijit Roy, who was killed in a similar fashion by the same outfit on February 27 last year.
Additional public prosecutor Md Salauddin Hawladar claimed that they were sincere about the trial, but the proceedings had been delayed because of late submission of a report regarding age of an accused.
“We got the report from Dhaka Medical College Hospital on Saturday, and hope that the court will start recording deposition on the next date [October 29],” he told the Dhaka Tribune.
The Detective Branch of police submitted the charge sheet against the five accused on September 2. Three others – Masum alias Masud, Sharif and Abrar – were mentioned in the charge sheet but not made accused as their details had not been found.
The court indicted the five – two of whom are absconding – on July 20 and set the date for commencement of the trial.
But on August 4, defence counsel Faruk Ahamed filed a petition under section 17 of Child Rights Act, 2013 before the court seeking trial of self-confessed killer Md Ariful Islam alias Arif alias Erfan alias Mushfique at a Juvenile Court.
Claiming that Ariful was a 17-year old, the counsel submitted a birth certificate issued by the Dhaka North City Corporation mentioning that Ariful was born on June 10, 1998.
Following the petition, the court ordered the DMCH director to submit a report after testing his age.
The trial process got stuck since the order though the prosecution witnesses appeared before the court on every scheduled date.
The four other charge-sheeted accused are Zikrullah alias Hasan, Saiful Islam alias Mansur, Abdullah alias Akram Hossain Hasib alias Boro Bhai and Zoned Ahmed alias Zonayed alias Taher. Akram and Zonayed are absconding while rest of the three accused are now in jail.
Saiful was arrested with firearms and machetes in his possession in Jatrabari area on March 23 last year. Police claimed that Saiful along with Zikrullah and Arif were going to kill Oyasiqur on that day.
According to the charge sheet, Akram, known as “Boro Bhai” among the Ansarullah members, masterminded the murder. He trained the killers for three months and provided them with the machetes.
In early May, terrorist group al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) claimed responsibility for the murders of Oyasiqur and other secular activists since 2013. Ansarullah (now Ansar Al Islam) is representing AQIS in Bangladesh.
After his arrest, Zikrullah told the police that he was a student of Hefazat-e-Islam’s Hathazari Madrasa in Chittagong. Arif was a student of the same madrasa and later became a student of Mirpur Darul Uloom Madrasa.
Arif was previously arrested in September 2012 from Raipura of Narsingdi during training at a JMB camp. Securing bail, he started following Ansarullah’s spiritual leader Jashim Uddin Rahmani. Zikrullah joined the group through Arif.
Oyasiqur Babu used to write on Facebook opposing irrational religious beliefs, superstitions and radical Islamists including Jamaat-e-Islami and Hefazat-e-Islam. He was also vocal against violations of human rights of the religious minorities and indigenous peoples of the country.