Dhaka, Sep 9 (efe-epa).- A Bangladesh court on Wednesday awarded life term to three policemen and handed seven-year jail sentences to two others in what was the first ever verdict under a 2013 law against custodial deaths and torture.
Dhaka Metropolitan Sessions Judge KM Emrul Kayesh handed life sentences to police sub-inspector Zahidur Rahman Khan and two other policemen over the death of a youth in police custody in 2014, Dhaka’s additional public prosecutor Tapas Kumar Paul told EFE.
They also have to pay a fine of 100,000 taka (around $1,175) or serve an additional six months in prison. Moreover, the court ordered each of them to pay another 200,000 taka as compensation to the family of the victim, Ishtiaque Ahmed Jony.
Besides the officials, two police informants were handed seven years of imprisonment and fined 20,000 taka by the court for their role in the death of the victim, Paul added.
The prosecutor said Jony was picked up by the police from a wedding program following an altercation with one of their sources, and was brutally tortured inside the Pallabi police station in Dhaka.
The victim later died at a hospital later, leading his brother to file a case under Torture and Custodial Death (Prevention) Act, which had been passed in 2013.
“We are happy with the verdict because it is the highest punishment stipulated under the act,” said Paul.
Two of the five people convicted were already in jail, including the prime accused, Zahidul. One policeman was out in bail while two others were absconding.
The verdict comes at a time when the police have been under pressure after a 36-year-old retired army major, Sinha Mohammad Rashed Khan, was killed in police firing at an outpost in Cox’s Bazar on July 31.
The incident caused an outrage and led to legal proceedings from his family. Since then, there has been a sudden halt to extrajudicial killings in Bangladesh, with no reports of so-called gunfights between the police and suspected criminals.
Following Wednesday’s court verdict, human rights activists have pointed out that this was just one case and that there remained much to be done in this regard.
“It (the verdict) is a drop in the ocean. There are many families still crying for justice,” Bangladeshi rights group Odhikar’s director Nasiruddin Elan told EFE.
According to data recorded by the nonprofit, there have been 646 incidents of custodial torture, including 274 deaths, by law enforcement agencies between 2004-19. EFE-EPA