The high court division bench comprising Justice Bhabani Prasad Singha and Justice Mustafa Zaman Islam passed the order yesterday afternoon after holding a hearing on appeals and death reference in the case. The court also commuted death sentence handed down to another 11 people by a trial court, to life imprisonment.
“For illegal activities of a couple of members, we cannot hold the whole force (RAB) liable,” the court said in its observation.
The high court bench started pronouncing the judgement at 10.35am until 1pm. Then the court went on to recess and started again at 2.10pm.
There was extra security vigil in and around the court marking the pronouncement of the verdict in the sensational trial. Even entry of the journalists was restricted citing the security. Extra members of different law enforcing agencies were posted at entry and exit point.
Earlier on August 13, the high court said it would pass judgment on the appeals and death reference on August 22.
The high court on May 22 had started hearings in the matter and concluded hearings on July 26. During the hearing, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam pleaded with the court to uphold the lower court verdict.
“It was a pre-planned and monstrous crime. Justice was ensured and people’s trust in the law enforcement agencies was restored by the judgment,” he said.
Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha on May 17 assigned the high court bench to hear the case as a 6,000-page paper book reached the apex court on May 7.
The Narayanganj District and Sessions Judge court on January 16 sentenced 26 persons, including main accused Noor Hossain, dismissed RAB officials lt col Tareque Sayeed Mohammad, major Arif Hossain and lt commander SM Masud Rana, to death in the sensational seven-murder case. The court also sentenced nine other accused to different terms in jail. All the documents of the case were sent to the High Court on January 22.
The High Court on February 8 received the appeals of the convicts. Twenty convicts including Nur Hossain, Tareque Sayeed, Arif Hossain, SM Masud Rana, Emdadul Haque, Belal Hossain, Abu Taiyab, Shihab Uddin and Mortaza Zaman Charchil filed appeals against their sentences.
After that, Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha ordered the department concerned of the High Court Division to prepare the paper book of the case on a priority basis.
Narayanganj City Corp councillor Nazrul Islam along with his three companions and driver were kidnapped by a team of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) on April 27 in 2014.
Besides, senior lawyer Chandan Sarker and his driver Ibrahim were also picked up by the same team as they witnessed the abduction of Nazrul and his associates. Subsequently bodies of all seven of them were found in the Shitalakkhya Rriver.
Two cases were filed in this connection — one by Nazrul’s family and the other by Chandan’s family.
Later, the three RAB officials were sacked for their involvement in the abduction and killings.
Lieutenant colonel Tareque Sayeed Mohamed is son-in-law of Minister for Relief Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya.