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বাংলা
Dhaka Tribune

Verdict in Ramna Batamul murder case June 16

Update : 28 May 2014, 09:07 PM

A Dhaka court yesterday fixed June 16 to deliver verdict in the murder case filed in connection with the 2001 Ramna Batamul bomb blasts that killed at least 10 people on Pahela Baishakh morning.

Judge Ruhul Amin of the Dhaka’s Second Additional Metropolitan Sessions Judge’s Court set the date after completion of closing arguments from both defence and prosecution sides.

Fate of the other case, involving explosives, is uncertain as a petition seeking the Supreme Court registrar’s opinion is still pending.

On May 18, additional public prosecutor Sarder Md Zahid Hossain completed placing their arguments in the murder case. The prosecution sought capital punishment for the accused.

Earlier, the court recorded statements of 67 prosecution witnesses out of 84 in the case filed with Ramna police station.

The terror attack killed 10 people and injured scores of others who had gathered at Ramna Park early in the morning of April 14, 2001 to attend the traditional celebration of Pahela Baishakh 1408 – the first day of Bangla year.

Chief of banned Islamist militant outfit Harkat-ul-Jihad al Islami (Huji) Mufti Abdul Hannan and 13 of his associates are charged in the case. Five of the accused are on the run and one is on bail while the rest are in jail to face the trial.

Soon after the blasts and the casualties, police filed two cases – one for murder and the other one for illegal possession of explosives.

Six charge sheets were pressed in the cases in which the trial began in 2009. The last charge sheet was submitted in 2008.

The prosecution says the cases progressed in sluggish pace during the tenure of the previous BNP-Jamaat-led government because all the accused had strong connections with the then government ranks. During the trial, the accused also threatened the prosecutors with life several times in front of the judge.

At the final stage of the trial, the prosecution found that they had not displayed the draft map of the crime spot before the court mistakenly during the deposition of the investigation officer.

So, the prosecution on March 25 submitted a petition for recalling CID Inspector Abu Hena Md Yusuf, the sixth IO of the case, for further deposition.

The court issued an order but a defence lawyer filed a petition with the High Court on April 1, challenging the legality of the recall order. Following the petitions, the trial proceedings again remained stalled. Later the court fixed several dates for the defence lawyer to submit the High court order but the defence failed to do so.

On May 5, the court recorded further deposition of the IO and fixed May 8 for closing arguments.

There are allegations that the prosecution was not sincere enough to produce witnesses before the court on time, resulting in the delay in the trial proceedings.

The Criminal Investigation Department pressed charges against 14 top leaders of Huji on December 30, 2008 in both the cases.

Apart from Hannan, the other accused are Mufti Shafiqur Rahman, Maulana Yahiya, Mufti Abdul Hye, Maulana Shawkat Osman alias Sheikh Farid, Maulana Abu Bakar alias Selim Hawlader, Maulana Mohammad Tajuddin, Maulana Abdul Hannan Sabbir, Arif Hasan Suman, Maulana Akbar Hossain alias Helaluddin, Maulana Abu Taher, Maulana Abdur Rouf, Hafez Jahangir Alam Badar and Shahadat Ullah alias Jewel.

Eight of them – Hannan, Suman, Jewel, Abu Taher, Sheikh Farid, Sabbir, Rouf, Yahiya and Akbar – are behind bars while the others are on the run.

The cases were sent to Speedy Trial Tribunal on March 23, 2010 but it sent the cases to Metropolitan Sessions Judge’s Court after recording deposition of 50 witnesses since the stipulated 135 working days were over but the court filed to complete the trials.

On May 25, 2010, the cases were sent to the Second Additional Sessions Judge’s Court. Now the cases are dealt at the court of Judge Ruhul Amin.

Earlier, nine more judges were involved in the trial proceedings.

 

Blast case verdict pending

Though the court fixed date for verdict in the murder case, another case filed under Explosive Substances Act remains pending.

As the cases involve the bombing incident and the accused and the witnesses are the same people, so the Supreme Court registrar’s opinion was sought in 2009 on whether both the cases could be tried together.

The registrar is yet to respond to the petition though several years have passed after filing of the plea.

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