Court censures IO for being overzealous
A Dhaka court on Thursday acquitted all the five accused charged for the reported rape of two private university students at an upscale hotel in the capital’s Banani area in 2017.
Judge Begum Mosammat Kamrun Nahar of the Dhaka’s Seventh Women and Children Repression Prevention Tribunal handed down the verdict in presence of the accused in a jam-packed courtroom.
Ahmed Shafat, his friend Shadman Sakif, Nayeem Ashraf alias Halim, Shafat’s driver Billal and bodyguard Rahmat Ali were acquitted as the charges brought against them had not been proved, the court said.
After the verdict, they were seen cheering in joy. Shafat is the son of Dildar Hossain Selim, one of the owners of Apan Jewellers.
Nothing in the medical report indicated that the two had been raped, the judge said, criticizing the police for being “overzealous”.
The judge also asked the police to refrain from receiving a case if a rape victim comes to the police station after 72 hours of the incident.
“Semen” cannot be traced after 72 hours," judge said while pronouncing the verdict in the.
The accused had consensual physical relationship with the women, the court observed, adding that the investigating officer of the case had pressed charges against the five accused despite the lack of evidence.
While reading the verdict, the judge said: “You are saying that this case is an important one but I don’t think so. To us [judiciary], every case is important. In this case, nothing was found in the medical report and the doctors could not submit any proof [in favor of rape].”
The court said that the victims in the case were not credible.
The complainant filed the case against Shafat and four others after being incited by Faria Mahbub Piyasha, former wife of Shafat. In this case, the complainant came to the police station 38 days after the incident, the judge mentioned.
According to the medical report, both victims were already accustomed to sexual activity. The IO pressed charges against the accused unnecessarily.
“This has wasted the court's 94 working days.”
The court could use the time proceeding with other cases, the judge said.
On July 13, 2017, the court started the trial through framing of the charges against the five accused including prime accused Shafat Ahmed. Of the accused, Shafat and Nayem were charged with raping the victims while Billal, Rahmat and Sakif were charged with helping them.
Defense counsel Mosharraf Hossain Kajol was present during the verdict. He said: “We are satisfied with the verdict.”
Asked about the acquittal all of the accused, special public prosecutor Afroza Farhana Ahmed told Dhaka Tribune that they would decide the next course of action after observing the verdict copy.
What the case says
After being invited to Shafat’s birthday party, the two women went to The Raintree Dhaka hotel in Banani at around 9pm on March 28, 2017.
As the rooftop party ended around midnight, Shafat and Nayeem raped the girls in two rooms.
Shafat’s driver Billal filmed the rape, bodyguard Rahmat intimidated the girls while Shadman Sakif refrained from informing the hotel authorities and the police about the incident. All the five accused were “drunk”, the case says.
On May 6 that year, one of the two rape survivors filed the case with Banani police station, naming Shafat as the key accused.
Afterwards, law enforcers arrested the five from Dhaka and Sylhet. Later, Shafat, Nayeem, Sakif and Billal gave confessional statements before magistrates on different dates.
On June 8, after the completion of the investigation, Inspector Ismot Jahan Ame of the Victim Support Center, also the IO of the case, pressed the charge sheet against the five accused under sections 9 (1) and 30 of the Women and Children Repression Prevention Act-2000 (Amendment 2003) to the Dhaka Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’s (CMM) court.
Of the five, Shafat and Nayeem were indicted for rape and the rest for aiding and abetting the crime under Section 9 (1) of the Women and Children Repression Prevention Act.