Friday, 1 July, 2022

Half of drug cases end in acquittal

The accused in over 15,000 drug cases, almost half of the total, got acquitted in the last 13 years due to ‘weakness in investigation and differing testimonies of witnesses’, encouraging the alleged drug traders to return to their old job.

‘Underhand dealings’ by some dishonest state lawyers with the accused were also blamed for the acquittal of such traders, who reign supreme in the drug markets. According to the Department of Narcotics Control (DNC), the accused in 15,145 drug cases out of total 30,385 got acquitted from 2009 to March this year.

The number of accused who were exonerated was 16,982 while the total accused were 32, 997. Less than half of the accused were awarded different terms of punishment.

According to the DNC, a total of 72,874 drug cases are now under trial in courts.

As per the information of different organisations working against drugs, there are about 1.60 lakh drug traders, including 27,300 female ones, in Bangladesh.

The number of drug addicts in the country is 7.5 million. Of them, 48 percent are educated.

A DNC team, led by its Inspector Helal Uddin Bhuiyan, arrested seven people along with 15 sachets of heroin from a house at Adarshanagar in Mirpur-11 of the capital on April 16, 2002.

Helal filed a case against the arrestees -- Monir Hossain, Khokon, Kalu, Yasin, Babu, Masum and Siraj -- with Pallabi Police Station in this regard. A charge sheet was submitted before the court against them on July 30 of that year.

However, all the accused in the case were acquitted on May 31, 2017.

In another case, a team of police arrested Aklima alias Kali from a house on Nasiruddin Sardar Lane of Sutrapur on June 12, 2013 with 10 bottles of Phensedyl syrup.

Sub-Inspector of Sutrapur Police Station Jalal Uddin filed a drug case against her. Later, police submitted a charge sheet in the case before a Dhaka court.

On April 3, 2022, Aklima got acquittal in the case.

Sources concerned said weakness in investigation and differing testimonies of witnesses helped the accused get acquittal.

A police officer, who wished not be named, told the Daily Sun that some public prosecutors were involved in underhand dealings in some cases that helped the defence counsels obtain acquittal for their clients.

He said the honesty and integrity of the prosecutors are needed to ensure punishment for the accused.

Contacted, advocate Abdullah Abu, public prosecutor (PP) of Dhaka Metro, denied the allegation, saying proper investigation and testimonies of witnesses are the key to meting out punishment to the accused. “Investigation in some cases is found to be weak. And witnesses don’t give the same statements they made to police. That’s why the accused in many cases get acquitted,” he said.

He also suggested improving investigation to ensure that no real accused get away without punishment.

When contacted, Deputy Inspector General of Police Kusum Dewan, also director (operations) of the DNC, told the Daily Sun that there was weakness in investigation and many witnesses did not turn up to give make their depositions in court. “Besides, witnesses are not found in many cases. That’s why the accused in many drug cases get acquittal,” he said.