A court in Tangail on Monday sentenced four people to death for killing law student Zakia Sultana Rupa after rape in a moving bus and concealing the body on August 25, 2017.
The court, however, sentenced the other accused in the case to seven-year imprisonment for assisting the four to conceal Rupa’s body.
Acting judge of Tangail Women and Children Repression Prevention Tribunal Abul Mansur Miah announced the verdict in a packed courtroom in the morning in presence of all the five convicts.
The death sentence recipients are Chhoa Paribahan bus driver Habibur, 45, his assistants Shamim, 26, Akram, 35, and Jahangir, 19, while the bus supervisor, Safar Ali, 55, received seven years’ jail and has been fined Tk 1 lakh.
The court ordered seizure of the bus and its handover to the victim’s family as compensation. The fine collected from Safar will also be given to the victim’s family.
In the dock, all the accused kept crying throughout the time when the judge read out the synopsis of 73-page judgment in 15 minutes in the morning.
As the judge completed reading out the verdict and left the courtroom, they cried out saying they were denied justice and police whisked them out of the courtroom.
The victim’s brother Hafizur Pramanik and sister Popy Khan, all in tears, said they were happy with the verdict.
They urged the authorities concerned to take initiatives to execute the sentence as early as possible.
Shamim Dayal, the defence lawyer representing the accused, coming out of the court told journalists that his clients were not satisfied with the verdict and would challenge it in the higher court.
Their trial began on January 3 and ended on February 5 when the court set February 12 for delivering its verdict.
A total of 27 prosecution witnesses were examined at the trial stage.
On August 25 night, police recovered Rupa’s body from area near Tangail-Mymensingh Road at Madhupur in the district.
Earlier that night, the death convicts raped her before breaking her neck and throwing her body in a remote area at Pachish Mile on her way to Mymensingh where she worked.
She went to Bogra to sit for teachers’ registration examination earlier on the day.
After the test, she along with her friend Abdul Barik got on the bus in the evening. Barik got down at Elenga around 9:00pm.
As all passengers got down, helper Shamim took Rupa to the rear and tried to rape her. The victim then gave him Tk 5,000 and her mobile phone to Shamim and pleaded to let her go, according to the case records.
It said that Shamim took the money and the phone and then raped her. Two other helpers Akram and Jahangir also raped her while Habib was driving and Gendu was sleeping.
Following an autopsy, the body was buried as unidentified at Tangail central graveyard the next day. Police lodged a murder case with Madhupur Police Station.
As Rupa did not reach Mymensingh on time, one of her colleagues called her. A man answered and said Rupa had mistakenly left her phone and switched off the phone afterwards.
When Rupa did not show up at work on Saturday morning, her colleagues informed her younger sister.
Unable to trace her, Rupa’s brother Hafizur lodged a general diary with Mymensingh Sadar Police Station on Saturday and continued to search for her until they learnt what had happened from the media.
The victim’s identity was revealed when her elder brother Hafizur Pramanik came to the Madhupur Police Station on Monday night after seeing her picture in news.
The following day, law enforcers detained five employees of the bus at Madhupur.
The arrested gave judicial statement on August 29 and 30 confessing their involvement in the rape, murder and concealing Rupa’s body.
Following a court order, the police on August 31 exhumed Rupa’s body and handed it over to her family.
The victim was later buried at her village home at Tarash upazila in Sirajganj.
Rupa Khatun, daughter of Jelhaz Pramanik of Asanbari village in Tarash upazila of Sirajganj, completed her master’s in accountancy from Bogra Azizul Haque College in 2014. She started her LLB at Ideal Law College in the capital.
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