Gen Manzur murder case: Court orders further investigation

Muktadir Rashid

A sessions court in Dhaka trying the Major General Manzur killing case on Thursday at the stage of arguments ordered further investigation into the killing in 1981, in response to a prosecution appeal which stated that the previous investigation was ‘faulty’ and ‘incomplete’.
Khandakar Hasan Md Firoj, the newly assigned first additional sessions judge, also asked the Criminal Investigation Department to submit report of the further investigation by April 22.
The court passed the order from his chamber at the District Court building at about 5:00pm some six hours after it adjourned at the makeshift courtroom set up near the Dhaka Central Jail.
The court’s assistant public prosecutor, Abul Kashem Khan, confirmed the order but declined comments.
Major General Muhammad Abul Manzur, the then general officer commanding of the 24th infantry division, also a leading freedom fighter, was killed in Chittagong Cantonment on June 1, 1981, two days after the assassination of the then president Ziaur Rahman on May 30, 1981 at the Circuit House in the port city.
After a long time, Manzur’s brother Abul Mansur had filed the murder case with the Panchlaish police in Chittagong in 1995 accusing a retired major, Kazi Emdadul Haque, who had taken General Manzur and others from police custody to the Chittagong cantonment.
Abdul Kahar Akand, Criminal Investigation Department special superintendent, had investigated the case in 1995 and pressed charged against former president Hussain Mohammad Ershad, four other former army officers – Emdadul Haque, Mustafa Kamal Uddin Bhuiyan, Abdul Latif and Shamsur Rahman Shams – for the killing,  abetment and others crimes.
The trials of the retired Major General Latif and retired Colonel Shams were, however, stayed by the High Court.
On January 22, the then judge Hosne Ara Akhter, who later was transferred to another court, set February 10 to deliver the verdict in the case on completion of final arguments and testifying 28 out of 47 prosecution witnesses.
At least 22 judges were changed during the prolonged trial.
But, on February 10, the newly appointed judge, Firoj set February 27 for further argument by postponing delivery of the verdict in the politically sensitive case.
But on Thursday, the prosecutor, Asaduzzaman Rochi, at the final stage of the argument filed an application seeking further investigation into the case stating that after examining the charge sheet and information from different sources it was found that there were some ‘faults’ in the investigation and that it was ‘incomplete’.
So further investigation is required ‘for the sake of justice,’ the prosecutor said.
The application also read that as the case was sensitive and some important witnesses were also dropped due to some faults, the prosecution was appealing to the court to postpone the argument and to pass an order for further investigation.
Asaduzzaman skipped an answer and left the court when asked why they had thought further investigation was necessary.
Jatiya Party chairman HM Ershad, also the prime minister’s special envoy, and two other accused – Emdadul and Mustafa Kamal – were present in the dock during the 20 minutes of the day’s proceedings.
Defence counsels, however, insisted that no further investigation was required.
The accused, Emdad, who defended himself, told the court that the then government had published a whitepaper based on a judicial inquiry report.
Unless the government cancels the white paper, the case cannot be continued as the charge sheet is contradictory to the white paper.
The case investigator, Kahar, declined comments when asked whether the investigation was faulty and incomplete.

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