Top Bangladesh court upholds death penalties for killers of founding father

22:05, November 19, 2009      

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Supporters of Awami League celebrate in front of the Supreme Court in Dhaka, capital of Bangladesh, Nov. 19, 2009. Bangladesh's Supreme Court Thursday upheld the High Court verdict that confirmed death sentences to 12 former junior army officers who killed the South Asian country's founder Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in August 1975. (Xinhua/Qamruzzaman)

Bangladesh's apex court Thursday upheld the High Court verdict that affirmed death sentences of 12 former junior army officers who slain the South Asian country's founding father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in August 1975.

Chief State Prosecutor in the case Anisul Haq told reporters Thursday, "The special bench of the Supreme Court (SC) gave the verdict at around 12 p.m. local time on Thursday while it dismissed the appeals filed by five convicts."

Five convicts Lt Col (sacked) Syed Farooq-ur Rahman, Lt Col (retd) Sultan Shahriar Rashid Khan, Lt Col (retd) Muhiuddin Ahmed, Lt Col (retd) AKM Mohiuddin Ahmed, and Maj (retd) Bazlul Huda, who are now behind bars, filed the appeals with the SC in October 2007against their convictions and death sentences.

A trial court on Nov. 8, 1998 sentenced a total of 15 former junior army officers who were involved in the killing case of Mujibur Rahman to death. Later on the High Court upheld the punishment of 12, acquitting three, in January 2001.

The guiding figure of Bangladesh independence, Mujibur, was killed with 16 others, including his wife and three sons, on Aug. 15,1975 by some junior military officers. Mujibur's two daughters -- Sheikh Hasina, the current prime minister, and Sheikh Rehana, survived the carnage as they were abroad on a tour at that time.

Sheikh Hasina wept after hearing the final verdict of her father's killing case after 34 years. The Chief Prosecutor Anisul Haq told reporters that he gave the message of the verdict to Hasina, who returned home from Italy on Thursday morning after attending the World Summit on Food Security.

Bangladeshi police stand guard in the veranda of the Supreme Court in Dhaka, capital of Bangladesh, Nov. 19, 2009.(Xinhua/Qamruzzaman)

About Hasina's reaction, Haq said, "The prime minister just expressed satisfaction and then started to weep." "I want nothing else other than justice . . . I want trial of the killers," national news agency BSS had earlier quoted her as telling a reception hosted in her honor by Bangladesh community in Italy.

Hasina is yet to make any media statement on the verdict but her nephew Sheikh Taposh, who too lost his parents - Sheikh FazlulHaque Moni and Arzu Moni -- in the carnage with restrained voice, reportedly said, "the nation was waiting for the day for long 34 years".

"In future nobody would dare to commit such a heinous crime," Taposh also a ruling party lawmaker said.

Syed Ashraful Islam, Awami League General Secretary, expressed his party's reaction on the final verdict in the assassination case, saying "It has been proved that no one is above the law, no matter how influential he or she is."

Moudud Ahmed, senior leader of the country's main opposition in parliament Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and former law minister, said the rule of law has been reestablished through the judgment and the nation got relief.

"We all have to accept the verdict delivered by the apex court of the country," he said while giving his reaction to the verdict in the murder case at his office to reporters.

A batch of flower was laid before a portrait of Bangladesh's founding president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in Dhaka, Nov. 19, 2009.(Xinhua/AFP Photo)

Talking to reporters Thursday afternoon, Qamrul Islam, the state minister for law, said there is scope for the convicts to seek for review of the verdict within 30 days. If there be no appeal for the review, there is seven days time for seeking mercy from the president after the expiry of the 30 days time.

The state minister said, "If everything goes smoothly, the execution will be carried out by the end of December or early January," he was quoted as saying by private news agency UNB.

In reply to a question, he said the government is trying to track down the absconding condemned convicts and bring them back through Interpol.

Out of the 12 convicts, six are absconding in different countries, one died abroad. The Bangladeshi government is considering various options to bring them back to Bangladesh to face punishment.

Defense counsel Abdullah Al Mamun, however, told reporters, there is no scope to appeal against the verdict of the highest court but a review petition will be filed on the rejection of the appeals.

More than 12,000 additional policemen, as part of strengthening security measures, were reportedly deployed in the country to thwart any unpleasant incident ahead of the verdict in the trial of former junior army officers who killed Mujibur Rahman.

Source: Xinhua
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