The story of a murder trial that goes nowhere after 32 years
In the last 32 years, 11 judges have dealt with sensational Sima murder case while the court changed the dates for 105 times to record testimonies of the witnesses
She said "no" to his marriage proposal, and that was her only mistake.
He could not take the rejection and turned furious. Then one afternoon, wielding a dagger, he forced his way into her home in Old Dhaka's Lalbagh and hacked her in front of her family members. She died on the spot.
The incident took place on April 26, 1988, and the family of deceased Sima Mohammadi is still waiting for justice.
The trial has not finished, even though 32 years have gone by.
The case – filed by Sima's mother Izhar Mohammadi with Lalbagh police station – is pending with the Jono Nirapotta Bighnokari Aporadh Daman Tribunal, Dhaka.
The case has five witnesses – Sima's parents, two siblings, and the forensic doctor who did the autopsy.
The parents passed away before they got the opportunity to testify. The siblings – Mobinur Rahman and Tabassum – gave their depositions in 2008.
Now, the court is waiting to record the deposition of Dr Anwar Hossain who conducted the postmortem. Interestingly, there is no trace of him and even police do not know his whereabouts.
In the last 32 years, 11 judges have dealt with the case, while the court changed the dates 105 times for recording testimonies of the witnesses.
Meanwhile, police could not arrest the lone accused in the case, Amin, yet. He has been on the run since the murder.
Sima's family and the state counsels told The Business Standard that police had not done enough to arrest Amin. They also said the autopsy doctor had earlier neglected to give his deposition, which had considerably delayed the trial.
The state counsels said the court had issued warrants against Dr Anwar several times and asked police to produce him before the court. Police, however, failed to do so.
Sima's younger brother Mobinur Rahman said he was too little at the time of the murder to remember the incident vividly.
"Now, I have lost all hope. Police are not sincere about producing the autopsy doctor before the court for deposition. I even contacted Lalbagh police in this regard, but they did nothing," he alleged.
Sima lived with her family at their Jagannath Shaha residence adjacent to the Lalbagh Fort.
Bench Assistant of the Dhaka Jono Nirapotta Bighnokari Aporadh Daman Tribunal Alamgir Hossain told The Business Standard, "The trial has not finished yet as the police failed to produce the fifth witness before the court for deposition."
He said the court sent several notices to the director general of the health directorate, asking him to help produce Anwar before court.
But the director general replied that Anwar had retired, said Alamgir.
The court was scheduled to record Anwar's deposition on March of this year, but police could not produce him. The court then deferred the process until July 16.
Officer-in-Charge of Lalbagh Police Station AKM Ashraf Ali told The Business Standard that he was not well aware of the latest development of the case.
"A sub-inspector has been tasked with the case. He tried to arrest the doctor but could not find him," he said.
Court sources said it was the negligence of police that Anwar could not be produced in court so far. Also, police did not submit any report to the court that Anwar could not be found.
Around two months after the killing, Sub-Inspector Ayub Ali of Lalbagh Police Station, also the investigation officer of the case, submitted the charge-sheet of the case to the Dhaka Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Court on June 25, 1988.
He wrote in the charge-sheet that Amin was found guilty during primary investigation.
Later, the charge-sheet was sent to the Dhaka Metropolitan Sessions Judge's Court for trial. Then, it was sent to the fifth Additional Metropolitan Sessions Judge Court. On April 29, 2001, the court framed charges against Amin.
After that, the case was sent to the Jono Nirapotta Bighnokari Aporadh Daman Tribunal, Dhaka as a sensational case.
According to the charge-sheet, Amin – a Bihari (stranded Pakistani) – used to live in his brother-in-law's residence on Shahjahan Road in the capital's Mohammadpur before committing the murder.
Special Public Prosecutor of the tribunal Anwar Sadat told The Business Standard that the trial had been delayed for so long as the autopsy doctor could not be produced before the court.
Advocate ZI Khan Panna, a criminal law expert, told The Business Standard that it is a matter of regret that the trial had not finished in 32 years.
"Police have failed to arrest the accused. They have also failed to produce the autopsy doctor before the court. It is not a difficult task for police to trace the two men, but they are indifferent," he said.
He also said perpetrators are becoming reckless because justice is not delivered quickly in such cases. Panna called on the government to ensure justice in the case.