A Manikganj court has sentenced bus driver Jamir Hossain to life-time imprisonment in a case filed over the deaths of internationally-acclaimed filmmaker Tareque Masud, journalist and cinematographer Mishuk Munier, and three others in 2011.
Delivering the landmark verdict Wednesday afternoon, Additional District and Sessions Judge Al Mahmud Faizul Kabir also fined him Tk5,000 on the charge of culpable homicide, and ordered him two years’ imprisonment and Tk2,000 fines for causing damages. Jamir, who had pleaded not guilty, was present in the dock.
The court heard a total of 26 witnesses in this case. Among them, the prosecution placed 24 witnesses and defenders placed two witnesses.
The accident took place near Ghior of Manikganj on Dhaka-Aricha Highway on August 13, 2011 when they were returning to Dhaka from Manikganj. The three others are Tareque’s production crews Wasim and Jamal, and micro-bus driver Mostafizur Rahman.
Family members of the victims and road safety campaigners have welcomed the verdict terming it a milestone in road accident cases. They hoped that the verdict would be upheld in the higher courts too.
The defence said that they would appeal against the judgement as the lower court had not considered their arguments.
Madhab Saha, the defence lawyer, said that they would file an appeal after receiving a copy of the full verdict.
Jamir had claimed himself innocent and blamed the driver of the microbus for the accident that shocked the country and triggered a wave of protests demanding proper investigation in such cases and stern punishment for the offenders.
[caption id="attachment_48360" align="aligncenter" width="690"]
The bus driver Jamir Hossain/ Dhaka Tribune
“Matir-Moina” (The Clay Bird, 2002), a critically acclaimed film, made Tareque Masud one of the foremost independent film directors in Bangladesh. The film also became Bangladesh’s first film to compete for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
He also earned repute by making other films like "Muktir Gaan" (The Song of Freedom, 1995) and "Muktir Kotha" (The Story of Freedom), 1996. He also made "Ontarjatra" (The Homeland), 2006 and "Runway," 2010.
Mishuk Munier was a media specialist and broadcast journalist. He served as the chief executive officer and chief editor of satellite TV channel ATN News. He also worked for BBC as a freelance photographer.
As the director of news operations of the first satellite TV channel Ekushey Television, Munier played a key role in developing broadcast journalism in Bangladesh. He also taught mass communication and journalism at Dhaka University.
Jamir had claimed himself innocent and blamed the driver of the microbus for the accident.
Mishuk’s younger brother Asif Munier has welcomed the verdict terming it a “milestone” and hoped that the government would execute the judgement.
[caption id="attachment_48336" align="aligncenter" width="870"]
The wrecked microbus in which filmmaker Tareque Masud and Mishuk Munier were killed in a road accident, along with three others, has been turned into a memorial to symbolise the tragic loss, and installed on the Dhaka University campus Rajib Dhar/DHAKA TRIBUNE
Son of martyred intellectual Munier Chowdhury, Asif said that the verdict, though it came after six long years, would be precedence in other cases filed over road accidents.
He thinks now more victims of road accidents would take legal action.
“We did not expect life-term imprisonment for the driver because of the lack of such examples in the country.
Moreover, the accused tried to influence the case while the prosecution could not produce half of the witnesses.
“May be we have got justice only because it is a high-profile case, and several organisations and prominent lawyers assisted us. I hope that the High Court and the Appellate Division will uphold the verdict.”
Such convicts should not be given bail, he suggested.