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Death Penalty for Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's Killers

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was killed in 1975

Tina S
Tina S
Nov 19, 2009
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Politics


 

Nov. 19, 2009, Thrusday-- Bangladesh’s Supreme Court upheld death sentences on five army officers for assassinating the country’s founding father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his family members 34 years ago in 1975.

General Background:

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who led the country to independence from Pakistan, was killed in a coup that brought a military government to power  on the morning of Aug 15, 1975. His wife and three sons were among 16 family members who died in the pre-dawn attack.
In its judgment Thursday, the apex court ruled that the incidents of Aug 15, 1975 were “a simple murder and it was not a result of mutiny”.
“Criminal conspiracy was committed to murder Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and this was not committed for any mutiny,” Star Online reported.
Also gunned down or bludgeoned in three separate attacks were most of Mujib’s family members, close relatives, political associates, Mujib’s security chief and personal staff.

Major Killers:

Referred to as “killer majors”, since most of them were junior officers, the condemned men are Lt. Col. (dismissed) Syed Farooq-ur Rahman, Lt. Col. (retd) Sultan Shahriar Rashid Khan, Lt. Col. (retd) Muhiuddin Ahmed, Lt. Col. (retd) A.K.M. Mahiuddin Ahmed, Maj. (retd) Bazlul Huda, Lt. Col. (retd) Khandaker Abdur Rashid, Maj. (retd) Shariful Haque Dalim, Lt. Col. (retd) A.M. Rashed Chowdhury, Lt. Col. (retd) S.H.M.B. Noor Chowdhury, Lt. Col. (retd) Md. Abdul Aziz Pasha, Capt. (retd) Abdul Mazed, and Risaldar (retd) Moslemuddin.
Some of them had later openly claimed to have carried out the killings in what they described as national interest.

Case Proceeding:

Bangladesh began the trial after Rahman’s daughter, Sheikh Hasina Wajed, who was abroad during the coup, became prime minister in 1996 and overturned an indemnity law passed by the military government 11 years earlier.
At that time, 15 men were found guilty and sentenced to death, but three were acquitted in 2001.
Of the remaining 12, five appealed the verdict to the Supreme Court, six are in hiding and one is believed to have died in Zimbabwe.

The appeals of the five were put on hold after Hasina lost power in 2001 to her bitter rival Khaleda Zia, under whose government the courts failed to process the case.
Legal proceedings were reactivated after Hasina regained power early this year following parliamentary elections.

Unidentified attackers last month threw a bomb at the car of legislator Fazle Noor Tapas, an Awami League member, Reuters reported at the time. At least a dozen people were injured in the attack. Tapas, who escaped unhurt, is one of the lawyers taking part in the trial process, according to the report.
Death sentences were handed down on 15 army officers by a court in 1998 and the group first appealed the ruling in 2000, Bangladesh’s New Nation newspaper said on its Web site. Three officers were later acquitted.

Fled the Country:

The killers were “sent abroad as diplomats,” the Bangladesh Institute’s Rahman said. “Many countries, especially in the Middle East, accepted them.”
Hasina’s government couldn’t complete the trial process while in power and the administration led by Prime Minister Khaleda Zia didn’t “pursue the matter at all” when it took over in 2001, Rahman said.
A military-backed government declared emergency rule in January 2007 and started an anti-corruption drive that resulted in the arrests of leading politicians, including Hasina and Zia, causing further delays.

Trial:

The military took no action like court martial against the military officials who masterminded and participated in the coup. No case was also registered with the police either by relatives of Mujib or his party men.
In fact the conspirators could not also be tried in court of law on the charge of assassination because of the Indemnity Ordinance passed by the government under president Khondaker Mustaq Ahmed. However, when Awami League, led by Mujib's daughter, Sheikh Hasina, won the election in 1996, it repealed the ordinance.

The Bangabandhu murder trial commenced, and Faruque, and some other coup leaders were arrested. Rashid, however, escaped arrest as he was reportedly in Libya. The trial ended on November 8, 1998 in death sentences for 15 out of 20 accused of the killing. However, the sentences were yet to be carried out as four of the convicts sought permission to file appeals. The decision remained pending due to a shortage of judges in the appellate division of the supreme court since August 2001.

On June 18, 2007, one of the conspirators who had been sentenced to death, Mohiuddin Ahmed, was extradited to Bangladesh from the United States. On August 07, 2007, the murder case hearing resumed after 6 years.
The appellate division of the supreme court of Bangladesh let out its verdict on November 19, 2009 after a five-member special bench heard the petition filed by the death-row convicts for 29 days. The appeal of the convicts was rejected and the death sentence was kept valid.



 

Keywords: Sheikh Mujibur Rahman,Nov. 19, 2009,Sheikh Hasina Wajed,Fazle Noor Tapas,Awami League,military officials ,Bangladesh’s Supreme Cour,Major Killers of Mujib.



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