The death reference of suspended Teknaf police OC Pradeep Kumar Das and Inspector Liaquat Ali - two death row convicts in Major Sinha Mohammad Rashed Khan murder case - have reached the Supreme Court.
"Now the chief justice will assign a High Court bench to hear the death reference," Supreme Court spokesperson and Special Officer Mohammad Saifur Rahman told The Business Standard on Tuesday.
The convicts can file an appeal challenging the punishment awarded by the trial court, he added.
A Cox's Bazar court pronounced the verdict in the case on 31 January, sentencing Pradeep and Liaquat to death. Besides, the court also handed life imprisonment to six suspended policemen and their informants and acquitted seven former cops. A total of 15 people were accused in the case.
In July 2020, police gunned down Sinha on Cox's Bazar marine drive while he was driving to the capital. After the killing, cops arrested two of his associates on narcotics charges the same night.
Pradeep-Liaquat duo initially branded the killing as a shootout with police on the Teknaf-Cox's Bazar Marine Drive – an 80km seaside scenic patch that turned notorious for gunfights at night after Pradeep was appointed the OC of Teknaf police. During his tenure, a total of 205 people were killed in 'gunfights' with police which the court termed as 'crossfire dramas' in the verdict of the Sinha murder case.
On 5 August 2020, Sinha's sister filed a murder case with a Cox's Bazar court accusing nine policemen. The court tasked the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) with the investigation.
On 13 December 2020, RAB submitted the charge sheet against 15 individuals, terming the killing a "premeditated murder".
According to the findings of the RAB, out of the 205 crossfires, 150 took place on the marine drive road between 2018 and 2020 while Pradeep was the police chief of the Myanmar bordering region.
"He used to torture innocent people in the name of a war on drugs. Those who failed to meet his demands for money were killed in crossfire in staged gunfights with law enforcers," said RAB.
On 27 June last year, Cox's Bazar District and Sessions Judge Mohammad Ismail framed charges in the case and commenced a trial.