All suspects in Raintree hotel rape case acquitted
A court has acquitted all five suspects, including Shafat Ahmed, the son of an Apan Jewellers co-owner, in a case over the rape of two university students.
The verdict was announced by Judge Begum Mosarrat Kamrunnahar of the Women and Children Repression Prevention Tribunal-7 on Thursday in the presence of all the suspects, reports bdnews24.com.
In her observations, the judge wrote: “The investigating officer submitted a biased charge sheet in the case. The medical reports on the victims did not find any signs of sexual violation. The DNA found on the victims’ clothes did not match the suspects. The victims came to the police 38 days after the incident, saying they had been raped. The investigating officer should have given the matter proper consideration.”
Instead, the officer ‘wasted the public’s time’, the judge said, instructing that no rape cases should be filed if 72 hours have passed since the incident.
On Aug 29, Shafat and the other four suspects pleaded not guilty and called for justice from the court.
The other defendants in the case are Shafat’s friend Shadman Sakif, a director of Regnum Group, Nayem Ashraf, an employee of E-Makers Event Management, Shafat's driver Billal Hossain and bodyguard Rahmat Ali. All five had been out on bail but were sent to jail on Oct 3 ahead of the verdict.
Two university students accused the men of involvement in the rape in a case filed with the Banani police in May 2017, a month after the alleged incident.
Shafat had been accused of inviting the two to his birthday party at the hotel in Banani on Mar 28 that year. The young women alleged that he and his friend Ashraf forced them into a room and raped them at gunpoint.
They accused the three others of aiding the rapists and filming the sexual assault.
Amid an uproar, customs officials raided Apan Jewellers outlets and initiated a case against Dildar Ahmed, Shafat’s father, after finding illegal caches of gold.
The defence claimed that Shafat’s former wife Faria Mahbub Piasha instigated the filing of the case. Piasha, a model, has been arrested in a recent drugs case.
Besides Piasha, who was with the plaintiff during the lodging of the case, key witness Ahmed Shahriar did not testify in court. Shahriar, a friend of the alleged victims, was beaten and driven out of the hotel during the incident, according to the case dossier.
The prosecution and defence wrapped up their arguments in the case on Oct 3 and the court had, initially, set Oct 12 as the date of the verdict.
This was delayed to Oct 27 after the court failed to finish preparing the verdict in time.
The date was deferred again to Nov 11 following the death of a veteran lawyer, which halted all proceedings at lower courts.