Appeal hearings of seven convicted Huji-B militants to begin next month
It took 13 years to deliver the verdict in the much-talked about Ramna Batamul bomb blast case. Another three years went by for hearings into the appeals filed by the convicts, only to be deferred for another four years for them to get underway.
Finally, on May 30, the High Court is set to hear the appeals of the seven militants of the banned militant outfit Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami (Huji-B).
Huji-B top leader Mufti Abdul Hannan and seven others were given the death sentence for their involvement in the horrendous attack that killed 10 people and injured 50 others during the traditional Pahela Baishakh celebrations at Dhaka’s Ramna Park in 2001. Mufti Hannan was executed in another case in 2017.
Family members of the victims and cultural activists seeking justice have long been waiting for the verdict to be implemented. But the slow process of justice has always disheartened them.
Two cases were filed over the attack – one for murder and the other for use of explosives – with Ramna Police Station. A Dhaka speedy trial tribunal is dealing with the case filed under the Explosive Substances Act.
The CID investigated the cases and pressed charges in both cases against 14 militants, including Mufti Hannan, on November 30, 2008.
Thirteen years after the attack, a Dhaka court on June 23, 2014 sentenced eight militants, including Mufti Hannan, to death and six others to life imprisonment in the murder case.
The seven others are Arif Hasan Sumon, Maulana Akbar Hossain, Maulana Tajuddin, Hafez Jahangir Alam Badal, Maulana Abu Bakar, Mufti Shafikur Rahman and Mufti Abdul Hai. Of them, Sumon, Jewel, Abu Taher, Rauf and Akbar are behind bars while two others are still on the run.
The six jailed militants are Shahadat Ullah Jewel, Hafez Maulana Abu Taher, Maulana Abdur Rauf, Maulana Sabbir Hossain, Maulana Yahiya and Maulana Shawkat Osman alias Sheikh Farid.
Eight convicts filed separate appeals with the High Court challenging the trial court verdict. The hearing was set to begin on January 17, 2017 but it was dropped from the cause-list due to a reconstitution of the bench.
Usually, case documents and judgements reach the High Court as death references from the lower court within seven days. The appeal hearing in the apex court may take a couple of months before the court delivers its verdict for execution.
Now, the case is waiting for a death reference hearing before the bench of Justice Krishna Debnath and Justice ASM Abdul Mobin.
Talking to Dhaka Tribune yesterday, Deputy Attorney General Shahin Ahmed Khan hoped that the bench would start hearings on May 30 as per cause-list.
Meanwhile, the trial in the explosives case has been sluggish due to a non-appearance of witnesses and alleged negligence of the prosecution.
The Dhaka Speedy Trial Tribunal-1 has recorded the depositions of 55 prosecution witnesses, out of 84 since October 1, 2012.
Abu Abdullah Bhuiyan, special public prosecutor of the tribunal, hoped that the trial would be completed soon. “The court has started recording the testimony of the investigation officer and will fix the verdict date after the testimony ends," he told Dhaka Tribune.