A trial court in Dhaka has granted three months to the Criminal Investigation Department as their investigators were yet to complete the investigation against Jatiya Party chairman Hussain Mohammad Ershad and four others into a murder case of Major General Manzur in 1981.
The order came nearly five years after the trial court in February 2014 asked for initiating a further investigation in response to a prosecution appeal which stated that the previous investigation was ‘faulty’ and ‘incomplete’.
In response to the last application submitted by CID seeking more time, the first additional sessions judge Pradip Kumar Roy, on Sunday granted three months to CID for the investigation and adjourned the proceedings until January 17, 2019.
Court prosecutor Asaduzzaman Rochi admitted that the delay in investigation was the cause for the delay in trial and in justice delivery system, and the court was aware of it.
CID investigator, Abdul Kahar Akand, also an additional deputy inspector general of police, said that on every scheduled date the investigators sought further time for probe and on every occasion the trial court announced adjournment for one month to three months.
This year, the first date for the case was scheduled on January 28 and the court sat but adjourned until April 22 as CID sought further time for the investigation.
Again on April 22, CID sought more time and the court adjourned until July 22. On July 22, the court again had to adjourn trial until October 21 on similar ground.
Later, the court finally granted CID only one month for the investigation allowing time until November 18.
The court officials said former president HM Ershad, whose Jatiya Party is a key ally of the ruling Awami League, was exempted from personal appearance in court until the investigation was completed but two of the four accused appeared in court.
CID again sought further time for investigation and the court then set a new date on January 19.
About the delay in investigation, the prosecutor, Asadduzzaman, said one should ask the investigator.
‘We have nothing to do, until the supplementary charge sheet or further investigation is submitted to the court,’ said the prosecutor, who did not even appear in court in the last hearing.
The CID investigator, Kahar, did not give any specific explanation about the delay when he was approached on Monday.
On February 27, 2014, the then judge, Khandakar Hasan Md Firoj, at the stage of arguments ordered further investigation into the killing in 1981, and asked CID to submit report of the further investigation by April 22, 2014.
Major General Muhammad Abul Manzur, the then general officer commanding of the 24th infantry division, also a leading freedom fighter, was killed in Chittagong Cantonment on June 1, 1981, two days after the assassination of the then president Ziaur Rahman on May 30, 1981 at the Circuit House in the port city.
After a long time, Manzur’s brother Abul Mansur filed the murder case with the Panchlaish police in Chittagong in 1995 accusing a retired major, Kazi Emdadul Haque, who had taken General Manzur and others from police custody to the Chittagong cantonment.
Abdul Kahar Akand, Criminal Investigation Department special superintendent, had investigated the case in 1995 and pressed charged against the former president Hussain Mohammad Ershad and four other former army officers — Emdadul Haque, Mustafa Kamal Uddin Bhuiyan, Abdul Latif and Shamsur Rahman Shams – for killing, abetment and other crimes.
The High Court, however, stayed the trials of the retired Major General Latif and retired Colonel Shams.
On January 22, the then judge Hosne Ara Akhter, who was later transferred to another court, set February 10 to deliver the verdict in the case on completion of the final arguments and the testimonies of 28 out of 47 prosecution witnesses.
Around 25 judges were changed during the prolonged trial.
On May 4, 2014, Bangladesh Nationalist Party chairperson and former prime minister Khaleda Zia, now is in jail over two corruption cases since February 8, alleged that HM Ershad is the man behind the murders of Ziaur Rahman and Maj Gen Muhammad Abul Manzur, and she criticised the ruling Awami League for keeping ‘close ties’ with the Jatiya Party chief, who is also the special envoy of the prime minister Sheikh Hasina.
Days later following Khaleda’s remarks, Jatiya Party chairman Ershad claimed the decision to revive the major general Mohammad Abul Manjur murder case was ill-intentioned.
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