A court in Feni on Tuesday sentenced 39 leaders and activists of ruling Awami League to death finding them guilty of murdering Phulgazi upazila chairman Ekramul Haque at Feni district town in broad daylight in 2014.
The Feni district and sessions judge Aminul Hoque gave the verdict amid tight security in and around the courtroom.
Each of the convicts were asked to pay Tk 50,000 as fine.
The court acquitted 16 other accused.
Only lawyers of the two sides were allowed entry in the courtroom.
Armed assailants murdered Ekram, also a local Awami League leader, in broad daylight near Bilasi Cinema Hall on Academy Road in Feni town on May 20, 2014.
The gang waylaid his car, opened fire on the vehicle and set it ablaze with the chairman trapped inside.
Four other people, including a local journalist and Ekram’s driver, were injured being stabbed by the assailants.
The court delivered the verdict on the basis of confessional statements of the 15 accused who also informed the court about people behind the murder, court sources said.
The court found the 39 directly involved with the ‘pre-planned, barbaric and heinous’ murder.
The court said in the observations that out of fears none of the 50 witnesses uttered the names of the perpetrators.
The court also said that the perpetrators misused
their powers to intimidate the witnesses for which they did not open their mouths out of fears that it could cost their lives too.
From the dock 22 perpetrators heard their sentences.
Court sources said eight perpetrators jumped their bails while nine others were absconding.
In the dock were death row convicts Feni district Awami League joint general secretary Jahangir Kabir Adel, AL leader Abdullahil Mahmud Shiblu, Sajjadul Islam Patwari alias Sifat, Abu Bokkor Siddique alias Bokkor, Md Azmir Hossain Raihan, Md Shahjalal Hossain Shipon, Jahidul Islam Jahid alias Azad, Kazi Shanan Mahmud, Mir Hossain Arif alias Nati Arif, Arif alias Panku Arif, Rashedul Islam Raju, Md Sohan Chowdhury, Jasim Uddin Nayan, Nizam Uddin Abu, Abdul Quayum, Nur Uddin Mia, Tota Mia, Md Sajib, Mamun, Rubel, Humayun and Tipu.
After jumping bails, the eight who were handed death sentences include Phulgazi upazila AL joint general secretary Zahid Hossain Zihad, AL lawmaker Nizam Uddin Hazari’s cousin Abidul Islam Abid, Chowdhury Md Nafiz Uddin Anik, Arman Hossain Kawsar, Jahedul Hashem Saikat, Ziaur Rahman Bappi, Jasim Uddin Nayan, Emran Hossain Rasel alias Engineer Rasel.
The nine absconding death row convicts include, Rahat Md Erfan alias Azad, Ekram Hossain alias Akram, Shafiqur Rahman alias Mayna, Kafil Uddin Mahmud Abir, Mosleh Uddin Asif, Ismail Hossain alias Chhuttu, Mohiuddin Anis, Bablu and Titu.
The court acquitted 16 accused including local BNP leader Mahtab Uddin Chowdhury Minar, the district president of Tanti Dal, as allegations brought against them were not proved.
The 15 others who were acquitted are victim’s close aide AL leader Belal Hossain Patwari, Juba League leader Ziaul Alam Mister, Md Alamgir alias Alauddin, Abdur Rahman Rouf, Saidul Karim Paban alias Papon, Zahid Hossain Bhuiyan, Iqbal Hossain, Md Shakhawat Hossain, Shariful Islam Pias, Kala alias Kala Mia, Nurul Absar Ripon, Md Yunus Bhuiyan Shamim alias Top Shamim, Md Masud, Quader and Faruk.
After hearing the verdict, Ekram’s brother Rezaul Hoque Jasim who filed the murder case with Feni Sadar Police Station on the day of the murder, said that the main culprit kept himself behind the screen.
He, however, urged the government to keep an watch on the issued so that none of the convicts got relief from the higher courts.
Mahtab’s defence lawyer Mesbahuddin Khan said that his client was falsely implicated in the case though Ekram was murdered by his own party men as a sequel to squabbles within the ruling AL.
Police pressed charges against 56 people in August 2014.
The court indicted all the 56 on March 15, 2016.
Their trial ended on January 28, 2018.
As one of the charge-sheet named accused, Sohel, died in a shootout with Rapid Action Battalion at the trial stage, the court passed no verdict against him.
The police arrested 44 suspects and 15 of them gave confessional statements in the court about their complicity in the sensational assassination.
The court examined 50 prosecution witnesses.
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