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B'desh: Woman who served jail term for actual convict freed
Dhaka, June 8 - The Supreme Court of Bangladesh has ordered the release of Minu Akter, the woman who had agreed to serve jail sentence in place of actual convict Kulsumi Akter, after the latter urged her to go behind the bars in her place, and assured her that in turn she would look after Minu's children.
Minu had already spent three years in the jail in a case that pertains to murder.
On Monday, the court, besides ordering Kulsumi's arrest, also summoned three lawyers involved with the case, along with the assistant of one la lawyer.
Minu's two sons live in an orphanage in Chattogram's Sitakunda while her daughter lives with another family. Minu, a resident of Cumilla's Moynamati, had lost her husband -- who was a cart-puller -- five years ago.
In the court, advocate Md. Shishir Monir argued on behalf of Minu, while Attorney General A.M. Amin Uddin and Deputy Attorney General Md. Bashir Ullah represented the state.
The convict, Kulsumi, had challenged in the high court a lower court verdict that sentenced her to life in prison. She had to show that "she had surrendered" before making the appeal.
In the case in which Kulsumi was convicted, a readymade garment worker named Kohinur Begum was murdered in Rahmatganj on July 9, 2006 following a dispute over a mobile phone.
Kulsumi was freed on bail one-and-a-half years after the police had arrested her in 2007. Besides sentencing her to life imprisonment, the court on November 30, 2017 also fined her of 50,000 Bangladeshi taka.
Later, Marzina Akter, known to both Kulsumi and Minu, approached Minu, who has two sons and a daughter, with a proposal to look after her children in exchange for serving the jail term for Kusumi until bail. Minu had agreed to the proposal, Minu's brother Rubel Hossain said.
"But later, Marzina did not contact us, let alone giving the money. Three years have passed, but they have not got my sister bailed," Rubel said.
Nurul Anwar, a public prosecutor at Chattogram's Women and Children Repression Prevention Tribunal-2, lawyers MA Naser and Vivekananda, and a lawyer's assistant, Sourav, will have to appear and explain the incident on June 28.
The bench of Justice Jahangir Hossain and Justice Mohi Uddin Shamim also ordered the authorities to investigate whether any fraudulent act took place during the filing of an appeal against Kulsumi's life sentence, a process which requires the convict to surrender first.
Chattogram Fourth Additional Metropolitan Sessions Judge Shariful Alam Bhuiyan forwarded the case to the Supreme Court after he was convinced that Minu is not the convict. He had spoken to Minu and checked the register of Chattogram Central Jail.
Md Shafiqul Islam, senior superintendent of Chattogram Central Jail, said they had checked the register after Minu claimed that she was not Kulsumi.
Minu had surrendered in the court on June 12, 2018. She informed the jail authorities on March 18 this year that she is not Kulsumi after Marzina broke all hers previous promises to help, said Golam Mawla, Minu's lawyer.
The authorities informed the matter to the court after finding that Kulsumi's height and photo did not match with that of Minu.
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