The Barguna Children's Court is set to deliver its verdict against 14 juveniles accused in the sensational Rifat Sharif murder case on Tuesday.
Conscious quarters in Barguna, including slain Rifat's family, have demanded the exemplary punishment of those who are found guilty in the murder case – to help rein in rising juvenile gangs and juvenile crimes across the country.
Meanwhile, the defendant's side expects that it will get justice in the court.
Previously, on 30 September, the Barguna District and Sessions Judges Court sentenced six people – including the slain Rifat Sharif's widow Ayesha Siddika Minni – after it found them guilty of committing the murder.
According to court sources and lawyers involved in the case, the Barguna Children's Court, on 8 January this year, framed charges against the 14 juveniles accused. Five days later, the court started to record witness testimonies.
After the testimony of 74 witnesses and completion of arguments of the concerned lawyers in just 63 working days, Judge Hafizur Rahman of the court on 14 October fixed the 27th of this month as the date to deliver the verdict in the case.
Among the 14 juveniles accused, seven gave confessional statements in the court under Section 164 of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPc).
Rifat Sharif's father Abdul Halim Dulal Sharif said, "We are satisfied with the verdict delivered against the adult accused. We believe those guilty among the adolescents accused will also be given exemplary punishment, while the innocent ones will be acquitted."
Mostafizur Rahman, public prosecutor at the Barguna Women and Children Repression Prevention Tribunal, said, "74 out of 75 witnesses in the murder case have given testimony. I firmly believe the evidence that we have presented in the court will ensure exemplary punishment of the accused."
Nargis Parveen Surma, lawyer of one of the juveniles accused, said, "CCTV footage from cameras positioned at the crime scene show that my client was present there at the time of attack. But, his involvement in the murder has not been found anywhere else."
Advocate Golam Mostafa, another lawyer from the defendant panel, said, "The prosecution has not been able to prove the allegations brought against my client. Therefore, he will be acquitted." Advocate Md Shahjahan, lawyer of another accused, expressed the same expectation.
The 14 juveniles accused in the case are: Rashidul Hasan Rishan Faraji, 17, Md Rakibul Hasan Rifat Hawlader, 15, Md Abu Abdullah Raihan, 16, Md Oliullah Oli, 16, Joy Chandra Sarker alias Chandan, 17, Md Naim, 17, Md Tanvir Hossain, 17, Nazmul Hasan, 14, Rakibul Hasan Niamat, 15, Md Saiyed Maruf Billah Mohibullah, 17, Maruf Mallik, 17, Prince Molla, 15, Ratul Shikdar Joy, 16, and Aryan Hossain Srabon, 16.
A youth gang led by Nayon Bond hacked Rifat Saharif in front of Barguna Government College, in broad daylight, on 26 June 2019. Rifat died at Barishal Medical College Hospital later that day.
A video clip of the attack went viral on social media triggering public outrage.
The following day, the victim's father filed a murder case with Barguna Sadar Police Station, against 17-18 people naming 12 among the accused.
On 1 September last year, police submitted separate charge sheets to the court, accusing 10 adults and 14 juveniles of the murder. At the same time, the court removed the name of the prime accused, Noyon Bond, from the trial proceedings, as he was killed in a gunfight with police.