Bangladesh’s Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected the review plea of five ex-army officers convicted in the assassination of the nation’s founder Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his family members in a 1975 military coup, setting the stage for their execution.
A four member bench of the apex Appellate Division of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Md. Tafazzul Islam pronounced the verdict after three days of hearing of the five of the 12 convicted ex-military officers who are now in jail to face the death penalty.
The five convicts who will now walk to the gallows after a trial that dragged on for 13 years are sacked lieutenant colonels Syed Faruq Rahman, Sultan Shariar Rashid Khan, Mohiuddin Ahmed (artillery) and AKM Mohiuddin and sacked major Bazlul Huda.
Sheikh Mujib, popularly called Bangabandhu, who led Bangladesh to independence in 1971, was gunned down at his home in a posh Dhanmandi area, along with his wife and three sons in a coup on August 15, 1975.
His daughters Sheikh Hasina, the present Prime Minister, and Sheikh Rehana were saved as they were abroad at that time of the massacre.
A total of 28 people, including domestic staff, were killed when a group of junior army officers stormed Bangabandhu’s private residence in a pre-dawn swoop that also toppled his post-independence Awami League government.
Officials and legal experts said, the five could be hanged sometime in February in line with jail code which suggests that the convicts to be executed in between 28 and 29 days after the issuance of the death warrants following the final verdict.
The trial started only when Ms. Hasina came to power in 1996 after spending 21 years in political wilderness. She scrapped an indemnity law which was enacted by the post-1975 government to protect the killers.
At that time, 15 men were found guilty and sentenced to death.
Three were acquitted in 2001. Of the remaining 12, five appealed the verdict to the Supreme Court, six are in hiding and one is believed to have died in Zimbabwe.