The High Court has upheld death sentences of 15 convicts including Noor Hossain, dismissed RAB officials Lt Col Tareque Sayeed Mohammad, Maj Arif Hossain and Lt Commander SM Masud Rana in sensational Narayanganj seven-murder trial.
The High Court division bench comprising Justice Bhabani Prasad Singha and Justice Mustafa Zaman Islam on Tuesday passed the order after holding hearing on the appeals and death reference in the case.
The court also commuted death sentence handed down to another 11 people by a trial court, to life imprisonment.
Those whose death penalties were upheld are: ex-city councillor and ruling Bangladesh Awami League (AL) leader Nur Hossain, former commander of RAB-11 lieutenant colonel (retired) Tarek Sayeed, former company commander of RAB-11 major (retired) Arif Hossain, sacked commander lieutenant Masud Rana, sacked habildar Emdadul Haque, sacked habildar ABM Arif Hossain, sacked lance nayek Hira Mia, sacked lance nayek Belal Hossain, sacked sepoy Abu Toiyob, sacked constable Md Shihab Uddin, sacked SI Purnendo Bala, sacked sainik Abdul Alim, sacked sainik Mohiuddin Munshi, sacked sainik Al Amin, and sacked sainik Tajul Islam.
"For illegal activities of a couple of members, we cannot hold the whole force (RAB) liable," the court said in its observation.
The High Court bench started pronouncing the judgement at 10.35 am and go on till 1 pm. Then the court went on to recess and again started its proceedings at 2.10 pm.
There was extra security vigil in and around the court marking the pronouncement of the verdict in the sensational trial.Even the entry of the journalists was restricted citing the security. Extra members of different law enforcing agencies were posted on each entry and exit points of the court.
Earlier on August 13, the High Court reset August 22 to pass its judgment on the appeals and death reference in the case lodged over sensational seven-murder in Narayanganj in 2014.
The High Court on May 22 had started its hearing in the matter with the reading out of paper book in the case and concluded its hearing on July 26.
During the hearing, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam pleaded to uphold lower court judgment against the convicts. "It was a pre-planned and monstrous crime. Justice was ensured and people got their trust back in law enforcement agencies by that judgment," he said.
Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha on May 17 assigned the High Court bench to hear the case as the around 6000-page paper book reached the apex court on May 7 after getting printed at the BG Press.
Narayanganj District and Sessions Judge court on January 16 sentenced 26 persons, including main accused Noor Hossain, dismissed RAB officials Lt Col Tareque Sayeed Mohammad, Maj Arif Hossain and Lt Commander SM Masud Rana, to death in the sensational seven-murder case. The court also sentenced nine other accused to different terms in jail.
All the documents of the case were sent to the High Court on January 22. The High Court on February 8 received the appeals of the convicts.
Twenty convicts including Nur Hossain, Tareque Sayeed, Arif Hossain, SM Masud Rana, Emdadul Haque, Belal Hossain, Abu Taiyab, Shihab Uddin and Mortaza Zaman Charchil filed the appeals against their sentences.
After that, Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha ordered the department concerned of the High Court Division to prepare the paper book of the case on a priority basis.
Narayanganj City Corporation councilor Nazrul Islam along with his three companions and driver were kidnapped by a team of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB)-11 on April 27 in 2014.
Besides, senior lawyer Chandan Sarker and his driver Ibrahim were also picked up by the same team as they witnessed the abduction of Nazrul and his associates.
Subsequently bodies of all seven of them were found floating in the Shitalakkhya river.
Two cases were filed in this connection -- one by Nazrul's family and the other by Chandan's family.
Later, three RAB officials -- Lt Col Tareque Sayeed Mohammad, Maj Arif Hossain and Lt Commander SM Masud Rana - were sacked from the service for their alleged involvement in the abduction and killings.