The hearing on the long pending leave-to-appeal against the impugned High Court verdict in the Jail Killing Case was adjourned for Tuesday, as the Attorney General on Sunday apparently failed to make out a prima facie case against the acquittal of the ex- army personnel.
After hearing the arguments made by AG Mabubey Alam for over one and
half hours, a 3-member Appellate Division bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice ABM Khairul Haque, passed the order.
On August 28 in 2008, during the army-backed caretaker government, a High Court division bench comprising Justice Nozrul Islam Chowdhury and Justice M Ataur Rahman Khan acquitted four ex-army officers in the Jail Killing Case, while it confirmed the trial court death sentence against Risaldar Moslemuddin, one of three condemned fugitives.
The acquitted army men were Lt Col (dismissed) Syed Farooqur Rahman, Lt Col (retd) Sultan Shahriar Rashid Khan, Maj (retd) AKM Mohiuddin Ahmed, Maj (retd) Bazlul Huda, Dafadar (dismissed) Marfat Ali Shah, and Dafadar (dismissed) Abdul Hashem Mridha.
Of them, Farooq, Shahriar, Mohiuddin and Huda were executed in January this year following their death sentence in the Bangabandhu Murder Case, while Marfat and Hashem are on the run.
Three and half decades ago, on November 3 in 1975, four national leaders - Syed Nazrul Islam, Tajuddin Ahmed, M Mansur Ali and AHM Qamaruzzaman - were gunned down inside the Dhaka Central Jail by a cabal of army officers.
The jail killings were seen as a desperate bid by power usurpers amid a political vortex, 79 days after the assassination of country’s founding father Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and most members of his family on August 15.
During the day’s hearing, AG Magbubey Alam pleaded for retrial of the Jail Killing Case.
“Although the trial was held but justice was not done, as the conspirators behind the gruesome killings remained in the dark,” he said, adding that the conspiracy behind the scene should be revealed.
The Attorney General said that the five accused, including an army officer, in the case - KM Obaidur Rahman, Shah Moazzem Hossain and Nurul Islam Manjur of BNP and Taheruddin Thakur, and Maj (retd) Khairuzzaman, “involved” in the conspiracy at Bangabhaban before the operation at the Dhaka Central Jail, were acquitted by the trial court.
On October 20 in 2004, the trial court, however, sentenced three army men to death and awarded life imprisonment to 12 others.
AG Mahbubey Alam said the trial court gave the conviction considering that the accused had perpetrated the killings along with their sidekicks, ignoring the conspiracy part of the case.
Interrupting the Attorney General, the Apex Court asked him to place the prima facie case in support of his contention.
“Show us the judicial evidence in support of your argument,” it said.
The court went on saying: There is no doubt about the conspiracy at Bangabhaban behind the jail killing. Conspiracy never takes place in broad daylight, so you are to give material evidence in this respect, but so far you did not pinpoint any such evidence.
Earlier, Anisul Huq, chief special counsel for the State, submitted his argument seeking leave-to-appeal against the impugned High Court verdict.