The verdict in the much-discussed case of Sagira Morshed, who was killed in a family feud in Dhaka's Siddheshwari over 30 years ago, has been delayed.
Dhaka's Special Sessions Judge Mohammad Ali Hossain was scheduled to deliver the judgment on Thursday, but he rescheduled the date to Feb 20 as the verdict was not ready, according to Farooq Ahmed, the lawyer for the plaintiff.
The accused in the case include Sagira's brothers-in-law Dr Hasan Ali Chowdhury, 71, and Anas Mahmud Rezwan, 60, sister-in-law Sayedatul Mahmuda alias Shaheen, 65, Maruf Reza, 60, and Montu Mandal alias Mintu. Anas and Maruf are currently in jail, while the others have been granted bail.
The accused who were already incarcerated were brought to court for the verdict but they returned to jail due to the postponement.
The case moved to the judgment phase on Jan 25, after both the prosecution and the defence presented their arguments.
Farooq and prosecutor Rafiqul Islam expressed hopes for the maximum penalty for the accused. Conversely, Mosharraf Hossain Kajol, counsel for the defendants, believes they will be acquitted.
Senior lawyers Syed Rezaur Rahman and Ehsanul Haque Shomaji were also on the defence team.
On Jul 25, 1989, Sagira was fatally shot by a gunman on a motorcycle on Siddheshwari Road as she was picking up her daughter from Viqarunnisa Noon School.
The same day, her husband, Salam Chowdhury, filed a case at the Ramna Police Station against unidentified assailants. After eyewitnesses pointed to Montu and Maruf Reza as participants in the crime, the police took them into custody.
On May 23, 1991, the Dhaka Judge's Court called for further investigations at the state's request as new information about Maruf Reza emerged during testimonies.
Following a revision petition by Maruf challenging the directive, the High Court, on Jul 2, 1991, paused further investigations and trial for six months. It also questioned the necessity of the additional investigation order.
On Aug 27, 1992, the court extended the halt on trial proceedings until a decision was made regarding the previous inquiry.
The prosecution sought to resume the trial after the new investigating officer brought the case to the attention of the Attorney General’s Office. This development was subsequently presented in court.
The court subsequently decided to lift the freeze on the trial proceedings after a hearing.
In June 2019, the bench of Justice M Enayetur Rahim and Justice Md Mostafizur Rahman dismissed Maruf's application and assigned the Police Bureau of Investigation (PBI) to take over the case.
Upon taking charge, the PBI first reached out to Abdus Salam Chowdhury, Sagira's husband. After numerous efforts, they located the young rickshaw puller who had transported Sagira.
On Nov 10, 2020, Anas, a brother-in-law of the victim, was arrested in Rampura following the rickshaw puller's identification. His confession led to the arrests of Hasan Ali, his wife Sayedatul Mahmuda Shaheen, and Maruf Reza, who all later made confessional statements in court.
Subsequently, on Dec 2, 2020, Dhaka Metropolitan Sessions Judge KM Imrul Kayes ordered the reopening of the trial.