B'desh HC acquits 4 former military officers in 1975 killings case

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Dhaka, Aug 28 (UNI) In a crucial judgment concerning the 1975 political changeover through bloody coups, the High Court (HC) today exonerated four former military officers from conviction in the jail killing case.

Lt Col (retd) Syed Farooq Rahman, Lt Col (retd) Sultan Shahriar Rashid Khan, Lt Col (retd) AKM Mohiuddin Ahmed and Maj (red) Bazlul Huda, who were said to be among the frontline operatives in 1975, got the acquittal in the long-drawn HC judgment.

Condemned ''killers'' Dafadar Marfat Ali Shah and Dafadar Abul Hashem Mridha were also acquitted.

The HC only affirmed the death sentence against Risalder Moslem Uddin Ahmed for the gruesome killings staged on November 3, 1975 in Dhaka Central Jail.

Farooq, Shahriar, Mohiuddin and Huda had applied to the High Court earlier, seeking to overturn the trial court judgment that had awarded them life imprisonment.

However, the four retired army officers cannot walk to freedom since they were already condemned to death in a case related to the assassination of the country's independence leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman along with most members of his family in the August 15, 1975 military putsch.

An HC division bench, comprising Justice Nozrul Islam Chowdhury and Justice M Ataur Rahman Khan today concluded the staggered judgment that began on August 18.

On November 3, 1975, four national leaders -- Syed Nazrul Islam, Tajuddin Ahmed, M Mansur Ali and AHM Qamaruzzaman -- were gunned down inside the Dhaka Central Jail by a raiding cable of army officers. These leaders were also influential members of the slain President Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's government.

The jail killings were seen as a desperate bid of power usurpers amid a political vortex, 79 days after the assassination of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his family members on August 15.

On October 20, 2004, a trial court in Dhaka sentenced three rankers -- Risalder Moslemuddin Ahmed, Dafadar Marfat Ali Shah and Dafadar Abul Hashem Mridha -- to death and awarded life imprisonment to 12 mid-level army officers for the carnage in custody.

The trial court had acquitted four politicians-cum-junior ministers of Sheikh Mujib's government -- KM Obaidur Rahman, Shah Moazzem Hossain, Nurul Islam Manzur and Taher Uddin Thakur.

Condemned fugitive Risalder Moslemuddin Ahmed and acquitted Dafadar Marfat Ali Shah and Dafadar Abul Hashem Mridha have been on the run long since.

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