Abdul Khaleque was never sentenced to death in the court verdict that landed him in prison. But he has spent the past 12 years of his life in a condemned cell.
In December 2002, Khaleque was among six others accused of killing Abdul Jalil, a resident of Bangaon village in Sunamganj. A quick trial tribunal sentenced five of the accused to death. But an appeal to the High Court in 2010 saw the sentence overturned, with four released on bail in 2014 and Khaleque receiving a sentence of 10 years.
The High Court order stipulated Khaleque’s prison sentence be considered to have started from the first day of incarceration.
Khaleque was arrested in December 2002. He was placed in the condemned cell on 24 July 2005.
Records of the Sylhet Divisional Quick Trial Tribunal show that the case files were sent from the High Court to Sylhet on August 12 in 2014. After arriving in Sylhet, the papers never made it to the prison authorities.
A court official disclosed that a copy of the verdict is supposed to be with the prison authorities. However, prison authorities claim not to have received any such documentation.
Sylhet Central Prison Senior Superintendent Md Chhagir Mia denied receiving any copies of the verdict. He said he was aware of Khaleque’s predicament and he wrote a letter to the concerned authorities to take action in this regard.
Sylhet Quick Trial Public Prosecutor Kishore Kumar Kar said the document may have been misfiled. He called Khaleque’s extended prison sentence “a gross breach of human rights.”
Was he framed?
Khaleque’s family alleged he was named in the murder charge sheet because Khaleque’s brother was found dead in July 2002 as well. Khaleque had filed a case, accusing 10 people. After five months, he was accused of murdering Jalil, which led to his incarceration.
Abdus Shahid, brother of Khaleque, said: “One of my brothers was killed. Another brother has been framed for pressing charges. I don’t know what is ever going to happen to our family. But I know that those who had money speak for them were able to have their way with justice.