Dhaka, Nov 8 (bdnews24.com) - Attorney general Mahbubey Alam termed late president Khandaker Mushtaq Ahmed a "killer" and "the worst betrayer", during the Bangabandhu murder appeals hearing on Sunday.
Mushtaq succeeded 'Bangabandhu' Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as president after the assassination of the nation's founding father and most of his family members by a group of army officers on Aug 15, 1975 .
As president, Mushtaq promulgated the Indemnity Ordinance in September 1975, granting impunity to those involved in the killings.
"The killers of August 15, 1975 were the followers of Khandaker Mushtaq. They executed plan to kill Bangabandhu. No army mutiny took place that day," Alam told the Supreme Court on Sunday.
The five-member Appellate Division bench, headed by justice Mohammed Tafazzal Islam, began hearing the arguments of the attorney general on the 25th day of the appeals proceedings.
Arguing against the defence plea of an 'army mutiny', Alam said: "The Aug 15 killing in no way can be termed mutiny. Even the convicts in their statements did not say it was a mutiny."
"Mushtaq was the legal guardian at the weddings of Sheikh Jamal and Sheikh Kamal (sons of Sheikh Mujib, married when he was detained by Pakistan forces)."
"He killed Bangabandhu with renegade army soldiers. If that is termed mutiny the very definition of 'mutiny' should be changed.
"It was not a mutiny, it was a conspiracy to kill Bangabandhu along with his family members.
"The killers went to Bangabandhu's house like thieves... and left the house like jackals after killing him.
Alam said: "If it was a mutiny the killers would have gone to the homes of the vice president (Syed Nazrul Islam), the speaker (Abdul Malek Ukil), the army chief KM Shafiullah and chief of general staff Khaled Mosharraf.
"It was a blueprint to destroy Bangabandhu. That's why they killed his family members.
Quoting the observation of the third High Court judge in the Bangabandhu murder trial verdict, the attorney general said: "From all evidence and unfolding of the events it is clear that no force including the army breached chain of command that day. No incident of mutiny did take place that day."
"It is irrelevant to mention army mutiny in such a stage of the case since none of the 61 witnesses termed it so.
"They never said that it was a mutiny. Even in the death reference hearing in the High Court the mutiny was not mentioned.
"The defence lawyers are raising questions about the authority of the trial by contending that it was indeed a mutiny in the appeals hearing.
On whether the legality of the trial of the court can be questioned at this stage of the proceedings, Alam said: "The Supreme Court has specific direction on the matter. Convict Syed Faruk Rahman previously questioned the legality of the relocation of the court regarding the case.
"But the defence never before raised questioned the authority of the trial of the court.
"They never said that it was a mutiny and the trial could not take place in the regular court.
Quoting from Faruk Rahman's statement, Alam said: "Faruk Rahman said the Aug 15 event was not an army uprising."
At the start of the hearing an emotional Alam said: "I cannot control my tears while reading the paper-book of the Bangabandhu murder case. This is a historic case.
All papers such as First Information Report, chargesheet, witnesses' account, the verdicts of the trial court and the High Court and the ruling on leaves to appeal are furnished in the paper-book.
"The best Bangalee for thousand of years was killed along with his family members on Aug 15, 1975. Bangabandhu was just 58 years old at that time," sais Alam.
"In his short time Bangabandhu united and awakened the Bengalees. He was the pioneer of the Bengalee nationalism. The secularism was introduced that time."
The court asked Alam to present his arguments on the main contents instead of being emotional.
The attorney general said: "The killers not only killed Bangabandhu they also killed the modern democratic spirit."
Alam said: "This was a heinous killing. The trial of the case is yet to end, though 34 years are over."
He asked the court whether it was beyond the public.
"The responsibility of the judicial court is to deliver equal justice to all. This also represents the image of the court," he said.
Drawing the attention of the court to barrister Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh, a lawyer of the state panel, Alam said: "Barrister Taposh is the son of Sheikh Fazlul Haque Moni. He wants the trial for the killing of his parents and grandfather.
"He (Taposh) has been awaiting the trial for years on end."
Sheikh Fazlul Haque Moni, the nephew of Bangabandhu, was also killed on Aug 15, 1975.
Mentioning convict Aziz Pasha, Alam said: "Aziz Pasha killed Begum (Fazilatunnesa) Mujib. Sheikh Russel (youngest son of Bangbandhu) wanted to go to his mother.
"He was taken upstairs and killed there. There is no limits to such cruel killing. The killers are beyond all values."
Sheikh Kamal and Sheikh Jamal were freedom fighters, Alam said.
"If Kamal's wife were alive she could have turn out a great sports person of the country. It was by chance that Sheikh Hasina and Sheikh Rehana were abroad at that time. That's why they survived."
Alam quoted the chief state counsel in the case, late Sirajul Haque, as saying . "I don't want the trial of Bangabandhu as the president and my friend. I want trial for the killing of Mujib as an individual."
"I am saying today Sirajul Haque is no more. But there are people who are still crying. Sheikh Taposh wants the trial of his parents and grandfather."
The trial of the case is taking too long, Alam said.
"The hearing of the case took place for 155 days, 66 days at the dual High Court bench and 25 days at the third High Court bench.
"It took 26 days for hearing the leave to appeal. The appeals hearing in the Supreme Court is running for 25 days.
"Even though the trial has been running for so long, the defence says they are not being given sufficient time."
Alam said: "The defence is talking about about court martial.
"If the trial were held under military law the convicts would not have got such opportunities," he said.
Before Alam, the chief state counsel in the case, Anisul Haque, delivered his arguments. The prosecution started its arguments on Nov 2.
On Oct 5, the newly formed bench began hearing the appeals against previous court sentences to hang some convicts in the case for assassinating the nation's founding leader 'Bangabandhu' Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on Aug 15, 1975.
Its progress has depended upon the political dispensation in power. None was allowed to file a case immediately after the assassination.
The Awami League government revoked the indemnity ordinance in 1996 and cleared the way for the trial. Then, Sheikh Mujib's personal assistant Muhitul Islam filed a case on Oct 2, 1996 with Dhanmondi Police Station against 24 persons.
On Nov 8, 1998, Dhaka sessions judge Golam Rasul awarded death sentences to 15 of the 20 accused. Four of the convicts—Major (retd) Bazlul Huda, Lt Col (dismissed) Syed Faruk Rahman, Lt Col (retd) Sultan Shahriar Rashid Khan and Lt Col (retd) Mohiuddin Ahmed—appealed to the High Court against the verdict.
On Dec 14, 2000, the High Court gave a split verdict in the case—Justice Md Ruhul Amin upheld death sentences of 10 of the convicts but Justice A B M Khairul Haque retained death sentences of all the 15.
On April 30, 2001 Justice Mohammad Fazlul Karim of a third High Court bench upheld death sentences of 12 and acquitted three.
Of the 12 death convicts, four appealed against their sentence in the Appellate Division in the same year.
Another death convict, retired Lt Col (lancer) A K M Mohiuddin, made an appeal from jail after he was deported from the United States on June 18 last year.
Of those having received death sentence, former Lt Col Abdur Rashid, Lt Col Shariful Haq Dalim, Lt Col Noor, Risalder Moslemuddin, Lt Col Rashed Chowdhury and Capt Majed are absconding.
The detained death convicts are dismissed Lt Col Syed Faruk Rahman, retired Lt Col Sultan Shahriar Rashid Khan, retired Lt Col Mohiuddin Ahmed (artillery), retired Major Bazlul Huda and retired Lt Col A K M Mohiuddin (lancer).
Absconding convict Aziz Pasha died in exile in Zimbabwe.