Awami League protests reprieve to Mujib killers


Dhaka : A ‘frustrated’ Awami League (AL) has protested the stay on the hanging of the killers of Bangladesh’s founding father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman by a court Sunday and vowed to continue the legal battle in what is the country’s longest trial.

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“We as well as the whole nation are disappointed, afflicted and agitated as the Supreme Court granted the applications by the condemned prisoners seeking to appeal against their death sentences. I believe there is no reason for granting the leave to appeal in this case,” said AL acting president Zillur Rahman.

“We did not expect it. It has frustrated us and the whole nation has been disappointed,” Rahman was quoted as saying by The Daily Star.

But he urged the party’s rank and file “not to be impatient”, reminding them that theirs was a law-abiding and disciplined party.

The party would go for legal battle immediately, said Rahman, who is heading the AL as party chief Sheikh Hasina, who is Mujib’s daughter, is in jail since July 16.

According to New Age, Sunday’s order means that the Appellate Division will hear the appeals of the five condemned prisoners for five reasons: whether the Aug 15, 1975, killing was a mutiny in the army, whether a civilian court could try army men, whether the delay of about 21 years in filing the first information report in the case was justified under the law, whether the allegation of conspiracy was proved by proper investigation and evidence and whether the case had suffered from the disjoining of the testimonies of witnesses.

The Supreme Court granted the applications of a dozen sacked or retired army officers seeking leave to appeal against their death sentences.

A thee-member appellate division bench, headed by Justice M. Tafazzal Islam, passed the order and asked the petitioners to file regular appeals by Oct 30. It also extended its stay on the execution of the death sentences until that day.

The condemned petitioners are Lt. Col. (sacked) Syed Farooq Rahman, Lt. Col. (retd) Sultan Shahriar Rashid Khan, Lt. Col. (retd) Muhiuddin Ahmed, Lt. Col. (retd) A.K.M. Mahiuddin Ahmed and Major (retd) Bazlul Huda.

Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was assassinated along with most of his family members on Aug 15, 1975. A case was filed after two decades on Oct 2, 1996.

On Nov 8, 1998, a trial court awarded death sentences to 15 retired and dismissed army personnel for the assassination.

The high court upheld the capital punishment of 12 army men. Of them, five are now in jail, one is dead and the rest are still at large.