A Dhaka court has sentenced 20 people to death and five others to life in prison for the 2019 murder of BUET student Abrar Fahad, who was beaten to death by Chhatra League activists.
Judge Abu Zafar Md Kamruzzaman of the Dhaka Speedy Trial Tribunal-1 delivered the verdict on Wednesday in the case that roused the nation.
The defence is not satisfied with the verdict and will bring the matter to the High Court, said lawyer Faruk Ahmed.
The “mastermind and other leaders” responsible for the murder should have been named in the verdict, he said.
BUET Sher-e-Bangla Hall resident Abrar had criticised the government over a water-sharing deal with India on Facebook. He was subsequently taken to the room of a BCL leader on the night of Oct 6, 2019, and murdered.
The incident sparked fury among the university’s students and led to the authorities imposing a ban on student politics.
All of the 25 suspects eventually named in the case were BUET students and Chhatra League activists. Three of them were tried in absentia.
The trial began on Sept 15, 2020. Following the arguments from both sides, it ended on Nov 14 this year. The judge set Nov 28 for the verdict. The verdict was, however, deferred to Dec 8 as the court said it needed ‘a bit more time’ to finish writing it.
The Abrar murder case was filed with Chawkbazar police by Md Barkat Ullah on Oct 7, 2019.
The case dossier offered harrowing accounts of how Abrar was clobbered with cricket stumps and skipping ropes for hours before his eventual death.
The BCL activists later dropped Abrar’s body from a staircase of Sher-e-Bangla Hall before doctors pronounced him dead in the morning.
The accused were members of the BCL’s BUET unit. They were expelled after the incident.
Police arrested 21 people for the killing. Another suspect later turned himself in to court. Three suspects are currently on the run.
Detective Inspector Wahiduzzaman submitted the charges to the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court against 25 suspects on Nov 13 after five weeks of investigation.
Dhaka Speedy Tribunal-1 Judge Abu Zafar Md Kamruzzaman framed the charges against all accused and issued the trial order in September 2020.
The trial and verdict were delayed due to the pandemic and the judge contracting COVID-19 at one point.
In September, the 22 people behind bars pleaded not guilty after 46 people testified against them.
GIVE THE DEVIL HIS DUE’
In his verdict, Judge Kamruzzaman quoted an Indian court case that discussed the issue of capital punishment, which stated that: “We feel that we should not hesitate to use the Sword of Justice with the utmost severity, to the full and to the end, if the gravity of offence so demands.”
He also cited Akbar Ali vs State, a decision from the High Court, which states: “In sentencing any accused, aggravating factors cannot be ignored and, similarly, mitigating circumstances have also to be taken into consideration. An age-old adage says – give the devil his due.”
In conclusion, Judge Kamruzzaman said:
“The suspects brought baseless charges against him and beat him cruelly and without mercy.”
“This incident has hurt all the people of Bangladesh. This tribunal orders the capital punishment for the accused to prevent any other incidents like this brutal murder of a talented BUET student, Abrar Fahad Rabbi, so that nothing like this ever happens again.”