UK-based international human rights organisation ARTICLE 19 on Tuesday expressed concern over the lengthy trial proceedings of journalist couple Sagar-Runi murder case, says a press release.
Faruq Faisel, regional director for ARTICLE 19 Bangladesh and South Asia, said, "Even after eight years into the gruesome double murder, justice seems still out of reach due to impunity and lack of goodwill in case investigation."
The release says, for the 76th time, the investigation report of the journalist couple Sagar-Runi murder case has yet again failed to be submitted by the RAB investigation officer.
"Such delays in a case that has been going on for eight long years is unprecedented. It is difficult to ignore such mistakes as a failure of the law enforcement agencies with rampant impunity of offenders and no proper initiative for a fair investigation.
"ARTICLE 19 strongly calls on the authorities to look into the lack of goodwill in this investigation by the law enforcement agencies and investigate any intentional mishandling regarding this case as to why justice and verdict should take 8 years to deliver.
Faruq Faisel said, "The investigation report reminds us of a proverb that has been pushed back 76 times – Justice delayed is justice denied."
He said ARTICLE 19 refuses to accept this to be the case for Sagar-Runi murder case. It is very important to find out when the investigation of this case will end and whether the trial will start at all.
"Sagar Sarwar, news editor of Massranga Television, and Meherun Runi, senior reporter of ATN Bangla TV, were killed on the night of February 10, 2012, in a rented house in West Rajabazar of the capital. The police recovered their bodies the next morning. Mahir Sarwar Megh, four-year old son of Sagar-Runi, was at home at the time of the murder. He is now 12 years old," says the press release.
"The then Home Minister Sahara Khatun visited the crime scene and said that the mystery of the murder would be revealed within 48 hours.
"Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir, who took over as home minister on September 25, 2012, expressed hope that the mystery of Sagar-Runi's murder would be unveiled by October 10, 2012. Then at a press conference on October 9, 2012, he announced a reward of Tk1 million for catching the suspect. One man was later arrested, but the mystery of the incident, why Sagar-Runi was killed was not revealed.
"After the murder, the police of Sher-e-Bangla Nagar police station and later the Detective Branch (DB) of the police initially got the responsibility of investigating the case. DB admitted their failure in the High Court on April 18, 2012, 62 days after taking charge. The court then directed the RAB to investigate the case. Since then, the RAB has been investigating the case and has so far replaced seven investigating officers.
In a progress report dated March 3, 2020, the RAB told the court, "According to preliminary DNA test data, samples from the sheet used to tie the victims showed that at least two men were involved in the murder."
The RAB said it would continue to liaise with the authorities of the two US labs testing DNA to identify the criminals. Since then each report submitted to the court only mentioned that 'serious investigation is underway' with no concrete progress or reports regarding the investigation. The court has set a new date for the submission of the investigation report on December 29, 2020.
"The court earlier looked to find answers to two questions from the RAB investigation officer, 'When will the investigation end? Will the investigation continue indefinitely?'
In this context, Faruq Faisel said, "There is no reason to think that it is impossible to find the killers involved in the Sagar-Runi murder. In this age of sophisticated technology, nothing can be hidden. With the government's goodwill and proper initiative of the law enforcement officials, various sensational cases have been investigated and militancy has been suppressed. We want to see that goodwill reflected in this investigation of the Sagar-Runi murder case as well."
Human rights organisation ARTICLE 19 works in many countries around the world. Founded in 1987 in the United Kingdom, the organization works to ensure freedom of expression and free thought. The rights body started its operations in South Asia in 2008.