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Dhaka Tribune

Two get life sentence 34 years after Sagira Morshed murder

  • Convicts fined Tk50,000
  • Three accused acquitted
  • Family to appeal acquittal of two
Update : 13 Mar 2024, 02:54 PM

In a case revolving around the murder of 34-year-old Sagira Morshed Salam in the capital’s Siddheshwari area 34 years ago, a Dhaka court has rendered its verdict, sentencing two individuals to life imprisonment.

Judge Mohammad Ali Hossain of Dhaka Special Judge Court 3 pronounced the verdict on Wednesday, also imposing a fine of Tk50,000 on convicts Anas Mahmud alias Rezwan and Maruf Reza. Failure to pay this fine would entail an additional six months of imprisonment for them.

Mosharraf Hossain Kajal, one of the lawyers for the defendants, said the time the two convicts had spent in jail during the trial would be subtracted from their prison sentence.

The court acquitted three other accused – Dr Hasan Ali Chowdhury, 70, his wife Syedatul Mahmud alias Shaheen, 64, and Montu Mondal – as the prosecution could not substantiate the charges against them. 

All the accused were present in court during the announcement of the verdict.

On January 25, the court, after hearing the arguments of the state and the defendants, fixed February 8 for the delivery of judgment. However, on that day, the verdict was postponed to February 20. As the judgment was not ready that day either, the court once again postponed it to March 13.

Appeal

After the court delivered its judgement, Sagira Morshed’s family announced that they would appeal against it in the High Court.

Sagira Morshed’s husband Salam Morshed said he would appeal against the acquittal of Hasan Ali Chowdhury and Syedatul Mahmud, not Montu Mondal. 

“I am happy with the verdict given by the judge after 34 years, but not fully satisfied.” 

Sagira Morshed's daughter Samia Sarwat Chowdhury said people would lose their confidence in the justice system if such a verdict was delivered three decades after such an incident. “We are not satisfied with this verdict. We will certainly take this to the High Court.”

What happened on that day

According to the case documents, on July 25, 1989, Sagira Morshed Salam was on her way to pick up her daughter Sarahat Salma, a second-grader, from Viqarunnisa Noon School on Bailey Road in the capital. Some muggers intercepted her when she was near the school. When Sagira Morshed tried to run away to save herself, she was shot. Sagira Morshed succumbed to her injuries on the way to the hospital after being rescued.

File image of Sagira Morshed with her daughters. Photo: Collected

Her husband, Salam Chowdhury, filed a case against unnamed individuals with Ramna police station the same day.

After almost three decades years, on January 16, 2019, the Police Bureau of Investigation’s (PBI) Inspector Rafiqul Islam submitted its chargesheet to the court concerned.

On December 2, 2020, the court framed charges against the accused. 

According to the chargesheet, the accused planned the murder due to a conflict within the family, hiring criminals to achieve their goal.

Justice delayed

A rickshaw puller, who had witnessed the murder, mentioned two people, but charges were initially pressed against only Mintu alias Montu.

Charges were framed against him on January 17, 1991. The names of Montu and then-home minister Mahmudul Hasan's close relative Maruf Reza also came up during depositions, due to which the trial court ordered further investigation on May 23, 1991. 

Maruf Reza appealed to the High Court against this order. Then on July 2, 1991, the High Court issued a ruling suspending the order for further investigation, later extending the suspension.

The trial proceedings hit a roadblock.

When the matter came to the state’s notice, it took the initiative to have the suspension order withdrawn. 

On June 26, 2019, the High Court revoked its order suspending further investigation into the murder. 

The court at the same time directed the PBI to complete the further investigation within 60 days. 

After its investigation, the PBI pressed charges in the case on January 14, 2020. 

On December 2 of the same year, the trial resumed with the accused being indicted.

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