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20 to die for Abrar murder

Five others get life imprisonment

Published : 08 Dec 2021 10:19 PM | Updated : 09 Dec 2021 12:17 PM

The Dhaka Speedy Trial Tribunal-1 on Wednesday sentenced 20 leaders and activists of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) unit of Bangladesh Chhatra League to death, and jailed five others for life in connection with brutal killing of BUET student Abrar Fahad at a residential hall in 2019 over his Facebook post.

  • The murder took place in early hours of Oct 7, 2019
  • Court framed charges against 25 on Sept 15, 2020

Judge Abu Zafar Md Kamaruzzaman pronounced the verdict in a jam packed courtroom in presence of 22 accused in the case. Three other accused are still in hiding and faced the trial in absentia.

The death row convicts were Mehedi Hasan Rasel, Md Anik Sarkar, Mehedi Hasan Rabin, Ifti Mosharraf Sakal, Md Moniruzzaman Monir, Md Meftahul Islam Jion, Md Majedur Rahman Majed, Md Mujahidur Rahman Khandaker, Tabakkarul Islam Tanvir, Hossain Mohammad Toha, Md Shamim Billah, ASM Nazmus Sadat, Morshed Amratya Islam, Muntassir Al Jemi, Md Shamsul Arefin Rafat, Md Mizanur Rahman, SM Mahmud Setu, Morshed-Uz-Zaman Mandal Jisan, Ehtashemul Rabbi Tanim and Mujtaba Rafid.

Of them, Morshed-Uz-Zaman Mandal Jisan, Ehtashemul Rabbi Tanim and Mujtaba Rafid are still in hiding.

The life term imprisonment recipients are Muhtasim Fuad Hossain, Md Akash Hossain, Muyaz Abu Huryra, Amit Saha and Ishtiaque Ahmed Munna.

Immediately after the pronouncement of the verdict, public prosecutor Mosharrof Hossain Kajal expressed his satisfaction and said that justice was done and that the verdict would play a significant role in preventing recurrence of such heinous acts on campuses of educational institutions across the country.

Defence lawyer Faruque Hossain said that his clients were aggrieved and would go to a higher court to challenge the verdict.

Expressing his satisfaction at the verdict, Abrar’s father Md Barkat Ullah said he hoped that the High Court would uphold the judgment and the authorities would execute it soon. Abrar's soul will be at peace if the verdict is enforced quickly, he said.

Breaking down in tears after hearing the verdict, Abrar’s mother Rokeya Khatun, who is at their home in Kushtia, said, “I am satisfied with the court’s judgment. But I want the rest of them to be hanged as well. I hope I can see them walk the gallows before I die.”

However, families of the convicted students in Abrar murder case have expressed dissatisfaction at the verdict.

Devi Rani Saha, the mother of Amit Saha, one of the convicts sentenced to life imprisonment, said, "My son was not at the hall at the time of the incident. He had gone to Netrokona."

She also said Amit was arrested under pressure from the media. 

"I expected that he would be acquitted," she added. 

Rabiul Islam, the father of another convict sentenced to life imprisonment Morshed Omorto Islam, said he did not expect the verdict. 

"Capital punishments and life imprisonments were given en masse. We are shocked. I was not prepared for such a verdict," he said. 

He also remarked that none of the convicts are professional criminals as the murder took place "accidentally". 

"We will go to the high court," Rabiul Islam added. 

Read More: State wants death penalty for 25 accused in Abrar murder trial

Security was beefed up in the capital’s court area ahead of the verdict.

Additional police personnel and female police members were deployed in and around the court premises to prevent any untoward incident following the verdict.

The movement of pedestrians around the court was also restricted.

Earlier, Judge Kamaruzzaman of the tribunal was expected to deliver his verdict on November 28 but deferred it to Wednesday as the verdict had yet to be prepared then.

On November 14, the tribunal had scheduled the verdict after concluding arguments by the prosecution and the defence.

During the closing arguments, the prosecution sought capital punishment for all the accused.

On October 7, 2019, Abrar’s father Barkat Ullah filed the murder case with Chawkbazar police station.

On November 13, 2019, Inspector Wahiduzzaman of the Detective Branch, the investigating officer of the case, submitted the charge sheet against the accused.

On September 15, 2020, the court framed charges against the 25 accused.

The court recorded statements of 47 out of the 60 witnesses in the case.

On March 14 this year, the 22 accused arrested in the case pleaded not guilty on account of self-defence.

Of them, Jisan, Rafid and Tanim have yet to be arrested and were tried in absentia.

According to the police, of the 25 accused, 11 took part in the gruesome murder directly and the others played a role in the crime one way or another. Of those arrested, eight have given confessional statements in the case.

The incident triggered a firestorm of protests on campuses across the country. Many took to social media to demand justice for Abrar.

Amid protests on the campus, Buet authorities on October 11 the same year banned all political activities on the campus and suspended 19 students of the university who were accused in the case.