The trials of around 50 top criminals are moving at a snail’s pace at different Dhaka courts as the witnesses are not appearing to testify against the notorious criminals.
The trial proceedings against most of the listed criminals remain stuck for years mainly due to the negligence of the lawyers in the cases and absence of witnesses as they do not dare to testify against the top terrors.
The top criminals include Bikash Kumar Bishwas, Subrata Bain, Tofail Ahmed Joseph, Khandaker Naim Ahmed Titon, Sanjidul Hasan Emon, Habibur Rahman Taj, Sheikh Aslam alias Sweden Aslam, Kamal Pasha, Khurshed Alam alias Rashu, Freedom Sohel, Killer Abbas, Liakat Hossain, Rakib, Arman, Moshiur Rahman Kochi, Immamul Hasan Helal alias Pichchi Helal, Akter, Lambu Salim, Ratan Gama, Shahajada, Moksed Ali Muksa and Ibrahim.
They are facing different charges including murder, possession of arms and bombs, snatching and extortion.
Many of the criminals are serving jail for a long time. Of them, Sweden Aslam is in jail for 20 years since his arrest from DOHS in the capital on May 20, 1997, while Joseph was arrested 19 years ago from Narayanganj.
There are allegations that the persons involved in the trial process, including the lawyers, are also not showing interest in concluding the trial proceedings apprehending trouble by the terrorists and their associates.
Additional Public prosecutor Taposh Kumar Paul of Dhaka Metropolitan Sessions Judges court told the daily sun that the cases against the top terrors are not moving mainly due to absences of witnesses.
He said though the trial courts are issuing summons and arrest warrants for the witnesses repeatedly, they are not appearing before the court to testify against the criminals.
Refusing the allegation of negligence of the lawyers, the state lawyer also said some witnesses do not come to testify before the court in fear of reprisals while police cannot trace some other witnesses as they have changed their address.
Seeking anonymity, several witnesses said they can not rely on the security arrangement provided by the law enforcers for going to the court.
According to the court sources, a murder case was filed against Bikash with Mohammadpur police station in 1995. Police submitted the charge sheet in the case in 1997.
The case is now pending at a Dhaka Additional Metropolitan Sessions Judge’s Court. The case did not see any further progress only because of the absence of prosecution witnesses in last 22 years.
The case against Bikash over the sensational double murder in Agargaon in 1997 also remains stagnant. The Dhaka Third Special Sessions Judge’s Court is dealing with the case filed with Tejgaon police station.
Police submitted the charge sheet in the case on July 7, 1998. But they could only produce only two out of 29 witnesses in the case. As the trial of the cases remains pending for years, Bikash was released from Kashimpur Jail on December 14, 2013, on bail and later fled to India. He is facing at least eight cases. Of those, the trial of five murder and two arms cases are currently underway.
Likewise, three others cases filed against Sweden Aslam, Subrata Bain, Joseph, and Titon are pending with Dhaka Second and Third Special Sessions Judge’s Courts since 1995, 1996 and 1997 respectively.
The charge sheets against the topmost criminals were submitted before 2000 in the cases but the trials are stuck as no prosecution witnesses are coming forward to give testimony.
The trial in Jubo League leader Galib Murder case is underway at the Dhaka Second Special Sessions Judge’s Court against Sweden Aslam and 20 other accused.
The case was filed with Tejgaon police station on March 23, 1997. Police submitted the charge sheet in the case on April 8, 1998. But the prosecution could produce only 10 out of 24 witnesses till 2003. At least 13 cases were filed against Sweden Aslam.
The same court is dealing with another case filed with Ramna police station on March 6, 1996 against Subrata Bain for killing businessman Fazar Ali in the capital.
On July 11, 1997, police submitted the charge sheet against Subrata in the case. Since the trial had started, only six out of 13 witnesses gave depositions before the court.
A case was filed against Joseph, Titon and six other on January 1, 1995 with Dhanmondi police station for killing Mukta. The police submitted the charge sheet on August 28, 1996 while the court framed charges against eight accused on October 7, 1997.
The case is still pending with Dhaka Third Special Sessions Judge’s Court as no witnesses could be produced before the court after 2001. Only five out of 14 witnesses gave depositions until 2001.
Another top terror Habibur Rahman Taj is facing multiple murder cases. One of the cases was filed with Kafrul police station on charges of killing electric mechanic Ismail Hossain in Kafrul on October 1, 2005.
The trial in the case is stuck with a Dhaka court as the witnesses are not appearing before the court to testify against eight accused including Taj. The others seven accused are on the run.