One of the convicts is absconding
A Gaibandha court has sentenced seven people, including former Jatiya Party (JaPa) MP Col (retd) Abdul Kader Khan, to death for killing Awami League leader and Gaibandha 1 lawmaker Monjurul Islam Liton nearly three years ago.
The other convicts are Kader's Personal Assistant Md Shamsuzzoha, his driver Abdul Hannan, his domestic help Mehedi Hassan, his nephew and house’s caretaker Shahin Mia, Anwar Islam Rana, and Chandan Kumar Roy.
District and Sessions Judge Dilip Kumar Bhoumik delivered the verdict around noon on Thursday in a packed courtroom.
Of the convicts, only Chandan, former assistant office secretary of Awami League’s Sundarganj upazila unit, is still on the run.
Another accused, Chandan’s brother-in-law Subol Chondro Roy, who was a butcher, died in jail during the trial.
On June 11, Kader, former JaPa lawmaker from the same constituency who had planned and financed the killing, was also sentenced to life imprisonment in an arms case filed in connection with Liton's murder.
On the evening of December 31, 2016, three armed assailants with helmets stormed the house of then Gaibandha 1 MP Liton in the Sundarganj upazila and shot him several times. The assailants then fled on a motorcycle.
Liton succumbed to his injuries at Rangpur Medical College Hospital several hours later.
The next day, Liton's elder sister Fahmida Kakoli Bulbul filed the murder case against five to six unnamed people with the Sundarganj police station.
According to the convicts’ confessional statements given in court, Mehedi, Shahin and Rana were the ones who attacked and shot Liton in his home.
Public Prosecutor Shafiqul Islam expressed happiness with the judgment. “Now we just hope the verdict will be swiftly executed.”
Liton’s wife Israt Jahan Smrity and sister Fahmida also expressed satisfaction and demanded that the verdict must be executed as soon as possible.
However, Kader Khan’s defence counsel Monjur Morshed Babu said they were utterly dissatisfied with the verdict. “We didn’t get justice. We will go to the higher courts challenging this judgment.”
Earlier in the day, the accused were brought to the court around 11:20am under beefed up security.
All of them, including Kader, were seen smiling and not worried. However, that changed after the verdict was delivered. Many of their relatives in the court premises were also seen breaking down in tears.
The convicts were then taken to the district jail.
On the other hand, people who came from the Sundarganj upazila and Awami League leaders and activists rejoiced and brought out celebratory processions from the court premises.
The ruling party’s Gaibandha district unit General Secretary Abu Bakkar Siddique said: “Justice has been served. It has been proved that there is rule of law in the country.”
Kader’s hunger for power led to Liton’s murder
According to police’s investigation and confessional statements, Kader Khan planned Liton’s assassination for a year, and intended to make it look like the local Jamaat-e-Islami leaders and activists were behind it.
The former JaPa MP also trained Mehedi, Shahin and Rana in different places of Gaibandha and Bogra to murder Liton for six months.
Police said Kader planned to kill Sundarganj Awami League leader Liton out of political vengeance, greed and hunger for power, with the belief that he would win from Gaibandha 1 constituency in the 11th general election if Liton was dead.
Kader also gave Tk3 lakh to the three assailants, and he and Hannan helped them flee to Dhaka and hide after the killing.
According to police, before his arrest, Kader was also planning to kill JaPa leader Shamim Hadier Chowdhury, who was nominated by their party instead of Kader to contest the national polls.
All the information came to light two months after Liton’s murder, following the arrests of the now six convicts.
Police arrested Mehedi, Shahin and Kader’s driver Hannan from the Bridge Road area in Bogra town in the early hours of February 22, 2017.
Based on their confessional statements given during the preliminary interrogation, police later in the day arrested Kader from his Bogra home.
At that time, police also raided Kader's home in Sundarganj and recovered one of the guns used to murder Liton, a magazine, and six bullets.
Kader himself, after he was arrested, also handed over a second gun to police. Police are yet to find the third gun.
Kader’s assistant Shamsuzzoha and Rana were arrested later.
On April 30, 2017, police pressed charges against eight people in the murder case.
The court indicted Kader and seven others on February 7, 2018. Statements of 59 prosecution witnesses were recorded during the trial, which started on April 8 that year.