The ongoing coronavirus outbreak has caused a delay in filing appeals with the Supreme Court challenging its High Court verdict in the sensational BDR carnage case.
No appeal was filed with the SC's Appellate Division against the HC verdict in this case, as authorities concerned are yet to provide the certified copy of the judgment to the defence and state sides, as court activities remain suspended as precautionary measure against the outbreak.
The certified copy of any HC verdict is necessary for both the defence and prosecution to move appeals before the Appellate Division, challenging an HC judgment.
The HC on January 8 released the 29,059-page full text of its verdict, that confirmed death penalty for 139 accused and upheld life imprisonment of 185 others for their involvement in the atrocities and massacre at the BDR Pilkhana headquarters in 2009.
The verdict is one of the largest in the world in terms of accused involved (846) and numbers of pages.
"We have applied to the copy section of the High Court for the certified copy of its verdict in BDR mutiny case, after it [HC] released the full text in January this year. The section was scheduled to give us an estimate of the cost for a certified copy on March 29. But, the section could not give the estimate till date as court functions have been closed due to coronavirus," Advocate Aminul Islam, a defence lawyer for more than 400 accused of the case, told The Daily Star March 29.
He said, "We hope we will get the estimate after April 5, when the court activities are scheduled to be resume. After we receive the certified copy, we will prepare the appeals for our clients, who are now serving in jail, and then we will file appeals with the apex court seeking acquittal for our clients (convicted accused). The appeals will be filed in 30 days after we will receive the certified copy," he said.
"Once the appeals are filed, the Supreme Court may set a date for starting their hearing. The chief justice may constitute a bench for hearing and disposing of the appeals in this particular case," Advocate Aminul said, adding that it cannot be said at this moment how much time will be needed for final disposal of this case.
Contacted, Supreme Court spokesperson Md Saifur Rahman told The Daily Star on Sunday that the HC's copy section has readied the certified copy of the HC verdict in BDR carnage case, and it will be supplied to the state and defence sides after April 5.
"A new printer machine worth Tk 60,000 has been purchased for printing the certified of the High Court verdict in BDR mutiny case," he added.
Saifur Rahman, however, could not say the approximate cost of a certified copy.
Attorney General Mahbubey Alam had earlier told this newspaper that the state will file appeals with the Appellate Division against the parts of the HC verdict that acquitted the accused, and seek due punishment for them.
The mutiny on February 25-26, 2009 left the nation shocked -- as details of the unthinkable cruelty perpetrated at the Pilkhana headquarters of the paramilitary force emerged. BDR was later renamed Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB).
The HC on November 27, 2017 pronounced the verdict that confirmed death penalty for 139, upheld life imprisonment of 185, three to 10 years' imprisonment of 200 and acquitted 283 accused of the case.