The Regent Group chairman sentenced to life imprisonment to set example for others like him
There is no escape for Regent Group Chairman Mohammad Shahed alias Shahed Karim in the arms case against him as firearms and ammunition were recovered from his car, a Dhaka court said as it sentenced him to life imprisonment in the case on Monday.
Judge KM Emrul Kayesh of Dhaka Special Tribunal-1 delivered the judgment in the presence of Shahed in a packed courtroom amid tight security.
The court also sentenced Shahed to seven years’ imprisonment for possession of bullets, but the sentence will run concurrently with the life imprisonment.
The court in its verdict said Shahed had been given the highest punishment because the prosecution was able to prove the charges against him without a shadow of a doubt.
“There are many people in society like Shahed and this case and verdict will set an example for them,” the court observed.
“He [Shahed] bought his car by taking a Tk20 lakh loan from the bank but he did not confess before the court. He is very cunning. As firearms and ammunition were found in his car, he cannot get any mercy from the court,” the court said in its observation.
Shahed to challenge verdict with higher courts
Soon after the verdict, Shahed, standing in the dock of the courtroom, said he had been wrongfully sentenced and would challenge the verdict in the higher judiciary.
Shahed’s counsel Moniruzzman also expressed dissatisfaction with the verdict and said an appeal would be filed with the High Court.
Dhaka Metropolitan Public Prosecutor Abdullah Abu said the verdict was fair and the court had sentenced Shahed to life imprisonment under Section 19(a) and seven-year imprisonment under Section 19(f) of the Weapons Act.
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The court set the date for the verdict after both prosecution and defence concluded closing arguments on September 20.
During the trial process, the tribunal recorded testimonies of 11 out of 14 prosecution witnesses, including the complainant of the case.
The trial got underway on August 27 through the framing of charges against Shahed, who stands accused in over 60 cases.
Detective Branch (DB) of police Inspector Md Sairul Islam, investigation officer of the case, submitted the charge sheet accusing Shahed on July 30.
On the run
Shahed absconded when RAB raided the Uttara and Mirpur branches of Regent Hospital on July 6, on receiving complaints that the hospital was issuing fake Covid-19 certificates as well as charging exorbitant fees for Covid-19 testing and treatment of patients.
RAB found evidence of at least 6,000 fake Covid-19 test certificates during the raid.
The next day, RAB filed a case against 17 people, including Shahed, with Uttara West Police Station. Subsequently, 10 other people were arrested.
Shahed was arrested by the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) from the Satkhira border region while he was trying to leave the country by boat in the early hours of July 15. He was then airlifted to the capital.
On July 19, a team of DB police found Shahed’s private car in front of a house in Sector-11 in Dhaka’s Uttara Paschim area. They seized a pistol with one bullet from the car and a case was filed under the Arms Act with Uttara West Police Station.