The 235-page judgment was released on Tuesday, two and a half years after the Appellate Division delivered it.
The bench that gave the verdict on Apr 30, 2013, was headed by then Chief Justice Md Muzammel Hossain.
It had upheld the death sentences of Dafadar Marfat Ali Shah and Dafadar Abul Hashem Mridha, who were acquitted by the High Court, in the Jail Killing Case.
Justice Nazmun Ara Sultana wrote the main part of the full verdict while the others of the bench – Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha, Justice Abdul Wahhab Miah, Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain, and Justice Muhammad Imman Ali – opined on her points and presented their own views.
The “High Court Division erred in law in acquitting the respondents”, they observed.
Justice Sultana said in the full verdict, “… there was a criminal conspiracy to kill the four leaders inside the jail and that all the 21 chargesheeted accused persons were involved in that criminal conspiracy”.
After the verdict had been issued two and a half years ago, defence counsel Abdullah Al Mamun said the defence will file petition to review the verdict.
The then Chief Prosecutor (now the law minister) Anisul Huq had said there was no scope for a review petition since the convicts were absconding.
A group of army officers had killed the four national leaders — Syed Nazrul Islam, Tajuddin Ahmad, M Mansur Ali and AHM Qamruzzaman — on Nov 3, 1975 inside Dhaka Central Jail.
The chargesheet was submitted on Oct 15, 1998 against 23 accused, 23 years after the case was filed.
On Oct 20, 2004, Dhaka Metropolitan Sessions judge Md Motiur Rahman sentenced Risaldar Moslem Uddin (fugitive), Shah (fugitive) and Mridha (fugitive) to death.
The court had also sentenced 12 army officers to life imprisonment, including Syed Farook Rahman, Sultan Shahriar Rashid Khan, Bazlul Huda and AKM Mohiuddin Ahmed, who had been given the death sentence in the Bangabandhu killing case, and acquitted six others.
In 2008, the High Court had exonerated Shah and Mridha from the crime following an appeal, but it upheld Moslem Uddin’s death penalty.
Rahman, Rashid, Huda and Mohiuddin were also acquitted. But their death sentences in the Bangabandhu killing case were carried out in January 2010.
The High Court had upheld the sentences of eight military officers – Khandkar Abdur Rashid, Shariful Haque Dalim, MHM B Nur Choudhury, AM Rashed Choudhury, Ahmed Shariful Hossain, Abdul Majed, Kismat Hashem and Najmul Hossain Ansar.
All of them are still absconding. Apart from Shariful Hossain, Kismat Hashem and Najmul Hossain, the others had also been given the death sentence in the Bangabandhu killing case.
After the Awami League came to power, the State on Sep 14, 2009 appealed against the Jail Killing case verdict delivered by the High court.
On Jan 11, 2011, the then Chief Justice ABM Khairul Haque-led Appellate Division bench accepted the appeal.