Amjad Hossain, a former chairman of Sonakania Union Parishad in Chattogram's Satkania upazila, was shot dead by miscreants on 3 October 1999 after he raised his voice against theft, murder, and robbery in the area.
The accused in the murder case used all sorts of tactics to delay the trial. The case had been transferred to the speedy trial tribunal twice. Even, the accused went to the High Court.
However, after 21 long years, the court of Judge AKM Mozammel Haque of the Chattogram Divisional Speedy Trial Tribunal delivered the verdict in the case yesterday, sentencing 10 people to death and 5 others to life imprisonment. However, 4 others have been released.
Plaintiff's lawyer SUM Nurul Islam told The Business Standard that the current Chairman of Satkania Union Parishad, Nezam Uddin; three brothers – Jahed, Rashed and Tareq; Manik alias Thot Kata Manik, Forakh Ahmed, Bashir Ahmed, Zillur Rahman, Rafiq and Jasim Uddin were sentenced to death.
Idris, Md Idris, Ayub, Harun, and Morshedul Alam were sentenced to life imprisonment. Abdul Malek, Abu Taher, Khair Ahmad and Mostaq were acquitted.
Abu Taher has been in jail since 11 November this year, while accused Md Lutfur Rahman Chowdhury has already died.
Among the chargesheeted accused, 10 are in jail.
"We are satisfied with the verdict. We demand arrest of nine fugitives," the lawyer said.
The verdict has also ended Amjad Hossain's wife Syeda Raushan Akhter's long wait for justice.
She said she had to go into hiding for several years with her five children – four daughters and a son – after receiving multiple death threats and being subjected to round-the-clock surveillance by the killers and their accomplices.
"Terrorists used to threaten my children and me because I filed a case against my husband's murderers. Fearing for my life, I left the area with my five children for several years. My husband's killers also attacked me on more than one occasion when I went to testify in court," said Raushan.
"I got extremely disheartened at one point. I'm happy that after 21 long years, the court has finally given a verdict against the killers. I demand immediate execution of the killers, some of whom are fugitives now," she also said.
Why Chairman Amjad was killed
On 26 August 1999, Amjad Hossain assisted in a joint police operation in Satkania-Lohagara to arrest robbers and recover weapons.
In their deposition in Section 164, the arrested robbers named Nezam Uddin and Bashir Ahmed as their protectors.
The captured miscreants were furious at Chairman Amjad for his role in eradicating robberies and against organised immoral activities in the area.
Advocate Abdul Alam, a son-in-law of the slain chairman, told TBS that Amjad Hossain was vocal against robbery and drugs in the area during his two consecutive terms as chairman of Satkania Union Parishad.
Nezam Uddin, the accused in five robbery cases at the time, was furious about Amjad's support of law enforcement. On 3 October 1999, Amjad Hossain was shot dead by miscreants in front of Mirzakheel Durbar Sharif in Satkania, he said.
He added that Nezam Uddin is currently the chairman of Satkania Sadar Union Parishad. "My mother-in-law and family members were threatened because they dared to file a murder case against him. They have also come under multiple attacks by miscreants on their way to testify in court."
Bashir participated in 3 polls yet 'fugitive'
One of the convicts Bashir Ahmed is the current vice president of Satkania Upazila Awami League and was also a candidate in three consecutive elections.
However, the police register shows he was a "fugitive" in the murder case. The plaintiff and the lawyer expressed their disappointment over the issue.
According to Advocate Abdul Alam, Bashir Ahmed was elected vice chairman of Satkania Upazila Parishad in 2009, chairman of Satkania Sadar Union Parishad in 2011 and a member of Chattogram District Council in 2017. "We still wonder why he was never arrested."
After chairman Amjad Hossain was killed, his wife Syeda Raushan Akhter filed a case, accusing 20 people.
Though the police initially investigated the case, the home ministry subsequently handed over the investigation to the custody of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID).
On 22 December 2000, the CID filed a chargesheet against 20 accused. The court framed the charges and started the trial of the accused on 25 October 2004.
The court completed hearing witnesses in this case in March 2019. Earlier this year, the case was again transferred to the divisional speedy trial tribunal.
Last month on 11 November, the court cancelled the bail of 10 accused, including Satkania Union Parishad chairman Nezam Uddin, and sent them to jail.
The court set the verdict date twice: first on 26 November and then on 7 December, but it was postponed on both occasioms.
Finally, on 13 December, the court sentenced 10 people to death and five to life imprisonment.