Court defers verdict in murder of BUET student Abrar to Dec 8

A Dhaka court has deferred the verdict in the case over the murder of Abrar Fahad, a BUET student killed by Chhatra League activists, once again.

Judge Abu Zafar Md Kamruzzaman of the Dhaka Speedy Trial Tribunal-1 set Dec 8 as the new date for the verdict, saying the court needed ‘a bit more time’.

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 it 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 remaining 22 suspects were brought to court on Sunday to hear the verdict.

Abrar’s father Md Barkat Ullah, the plaintiff in the case, was also present in court.

Security was heightened around the court ahead of the verdict alongside crowds of journalists covering the closely-watched case.

The court started its session and read out the names of the suspects at 12:15 pm, asking if they were present.

The judge then said the verdict had not yet been completed and some more time was needed to do so. He then set Dec 8 for the decision.

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 on Oct 6.

The BCL activists later dropped Abrar's body from a staircase of Sher-e-Bangla Hall before doctors pronounced him dead in the morning.

Most of 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 latest hearing in the case was scheduled for Sept 20 but was deferred to Oct 20 as the judge tested positive for coronavirus.

“The court was shut twice due to the pandemic, causing some delay in case proceedings. Arguments are being presented in the case now. But the judge was diagnosed with COVID-19 at one point, causing further delay,” Advocate Abu Abdullah Bhuiyan, a special public prosecutor of the tribunal, said.

In September, the 22 people behind bars pleaded not guilty after 46 people testified against them.

The verdict in the case was expected on Sunday.

"We hope the accused will be given the maximum punishment," Md Barkat Ullah, Abrar’s father, had told bdnews24.com.

Abu Abdullah Bhuiyan, a special public prosecutor of the tribunal, said, “Through this case, we want to raise awareness about ragging culture, extortion, and coercion.”

"The 46 witnesses have been able to prove the guilt of the accused in the case with their testimonies. I hope the 25 accused will be handed out death sentences.”

Aminul Gani Tito, one of the lawyers representing the accused, said, "No matter the verdict delivered by this court, we will be released by the High Court."

"The general diary filed after the incident should have been treated as the First Information Report. The names of the accused were later included in the case dossier. The real culprits were let go while others were accused.”

Tito said, “We previously expressed a lack of confidence in the judge and petitioned to transfer the case to another court. But the High Court ignored the plea.”