12 to die for killing Bangladesh’s founding father Mujib (Lead)

Dhaka, Nov 19 (Inditop.com) Bangladesh’s Supreme Court Thursday rejected appeals of five former army officers and confirmed death sentence on seven others, who are living abroad, for killing the country’s founding father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his family members 34 years ago.

A five-judge bench of the apex court delivered the judgement amid tight security at the court premises and key establishments across the country, bringing to an end a long court battle on an emotive issue.

Sheikh Mujib, officially referred to with the honorific Bangabandhu who was then the country’s president, was killed in a coup on the morning of Aug 15, 1975, less than four years after he led a movement that culminated in the emergence of Bangladesh after its violent separation from Pakistan.

In its judgement 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.

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.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Mujib’s elder daughter and one of the two survivors, revived the court trial after she returned to power in January.

She returned home from a visit to Italy hours before the judgement was delivered.

There was no immediate reaction from Hasina.

Sheikh Rehana, the other surviving daughter of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, in her reaction, said it was important that the verdict had been upheld by the Supreme Court.

Rehana told bdnews24.com by phone from abroad: “I pray for the peace of the departed souls of those killed that day. I hope the shame of the incident will be erased from our history through this final verdict.

“The trial has finally ended after 34 years. Justice has been established,” said Rehana, younger sister of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Political observers said that a major task before the Sheikh Hasina government would be to locate and bring back six officers who are living abroad. One of them died two years ago.

The trial began 10 years ago. The killers’ final appeal was heard for 29 days by a special bench of the SC Appellate Division comprising Justice Mohammed Tafazzul Islam, Justice Mohammed Abdul Aziz, Justice B.K. Das, Justice Mohammed Muzammel Hossain, and Justice S.K. Sinha.

The only option left for the prisoners is to seek a presidential pardon. If the convicts do not receive the pardon, they have to be hanged within 21 days of the rejection of their appeal as per Bangladeshi law.