Only one out of seven convicts in custody
Yet, justice is nowhere in sight with four of the death row convicts still avoiding arrest and leading a carefree life in Malaysia.
Shortly after a Dhaka court cancelled the bails and ordered to send the four – Khandaker Ashiqul Islam alias Ashiq, Khan Mohammad Rois alias Shohan, Ishtiaque Mehboob alias Arup and Mahabub Akram – to jail, they mysteriously escaped from the dock in February, 2014.
Law enforcement agencies have since failed to arrest the fugitives in the much-talked murder case.
They fled the scene in broad daylight as the court police barely took any measures to increase police surveillance on the court premises.
Today, as the family of Zubair is casting doubt on the execution of the verdict as most of the convicts are living abroad, the killers are living freely, enjoying movies together and hanging out with friends in Malaysia.
Among them, Shohan lives in Kuala Lumpur, visits nightclubs, hangs out with friends and regularly posts on Facebook.
Akram, also in Malaysia, is regularly in touch with the other three killers, and likes posts of his other friends on Facebook.
Arup is a director at Alves Resources Sdn Bhd since January 2017, according to his profile. He also met with other friends – Ashiq and Shohan – on different occasions at the University of Malaya (UM).
Dhaka Tribune confirmed via Akram's friends that he has been living in Malaysia since.
Among the other three, Najmus Sakib Topu and Zahid Hasan is on run. Rashidul Islam Raju, who was sent to jail upon surrender in March 2015, is in custody.
On January 8, 2012, Zubair, an honours final year student of English at JU, was stabbed to death by members of an opposing faction of the ruling Awami League’s student front over their previous animosity and political rage.
How Zubair was killed
Zubair was intercepted by two of his batch mates – Ashique and Raju – outside the new Arts Faculty building in the campus.
He was taken to a place behind the science workshop in the campus where several JU students and Chhatra League activists joined them.
Zubair was beaten severely with steel pipes, iron rods, wooden sticks and other instruments aside from numerous kicks and punches until he became almost unconscious due to severe bleeding. Many of his bones were crushed because he allegedly misbehaved with the duo four years ago.
Zubair succumbed to his injuries at United Hospital in Dhaka the following day.
Seven students were expelled by the university for their direct involvement in the incident.
On February 8, 2015, a Dhaka court sentenced five people to death and six others to life imprisonment for the killing.
Later the High Court in January 2018 upheld death penalty for five of them – Ashiq, Zahid, Shohan, Raju, and Akram. The bench also upheld the life sentence for two accused – Arup and Topu – and acquitted four others who were initially sentenced to life imprisonment by a trial court three years ago.
Will they ever be arrested?
Deputy Attorney General KM Zahid Sarwar Kajol said none of the fugitives have so far been arrested.
“Only Rashidul Islam Raju, who is now in custody, filed an appeal against the High Court judgment,” he said.
Dhaka Tribune spoke to four police stations to find out the update on arrest of Arup, Akram, Ashiq, and Shohan, but all the OCs of the police stations failed to clarify what steps they have taken so far.
When asked on whether any initiatives were taken to bring back the fugitives from Malaysia, they failed to answer the question.
Attorney General Mahbubey Alam said Mutual Legal Assistance Request (MLAR) can be processed for extradition of fugitives to bring them back home.
“There was a time when MLAR was filed and supervised from Office of the Attorney General, but now it is under the jurisdiction of the Home Ministry. Talk to them,” he said responding to a query on whether any MLAR was filed or not.
Dhaka Tribune phoned Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal and Senior Secretary to the ministry Mostafa Kamal Uddin several times over the last two days, but to no avail.
‘Killings to continue till justice is served’
Killings, particularly in campuses, will continue until the state fails to ensure justice in old cases, especially the much talked ones like the Zubair murder, said the victim's family.
“We thought the verdict will be executed properly, but the lengthy process and the killers moving freely disappoint us,” said Zubair's elder brother Abdullah Al Mamun.
“The killings will continue because no verdicts were executed. The only way to resurrect people's faith in justice and stop such crimes is to bring back the killers from abroad, and ensure exemplary punishment as an example of justice,” he added.
Terming criminals fleeing the court in broad daylight as a state sponsored crime, he said the criminals fleeing from court, managing their passports, and leaving the country via the airport escaping the eyes of everyone is impossible without the association of some officials of the government.
“It is nothing but a mockery with us,” said the brother, Mamun.