A decade after filing the arms hauling case a special court in Chittagong on Thursday handed down death sentences and life terms to former ministers Matiur Rahman Nizami and Lutfozzaman Babar and 11 senior and influential civil and military bureaucrats, besides the Indian separatist leader Paresh Barua in the case. The verdict has put an alarming signal, as we believe, to the civil and military officials of the government. The case, as it appears, has serious implication of public trust when security officials are found involved. As far as security interests are concerned proper advice should have come from security high-ups. Who does not know how weak is our political leadership. But security people have to be strong in matters of defence and patriotism. News reports said the judge had sentenced the convicts under the Arms Act and Special Powers Act – in connection with the recovery of 10 truckloads arms and ammunition from the jetty of Chittagong Urea Fertiliser Factory on April 1, 2004. The accused however denied their involvement throughout the trial saying it was essentially a smuggling case in which senior officials and ministers had no reason to get involved.The convicts included, besides the two ministers, former director generals of DGFI, NSI, a director of NSI, a deputy director and a field officer of NSI, former managing director of Chittagong Urea Fertiliser Factory, a general manager, a former industries secretary, ULFA leader Poresh Barua and transport and labour suppliers to the smuggling operations. The political situation in the country is such that it is not easy to believe who is right and who is wrong. The prosecution said the arms were meant for Indian separatist outfit ULFA to cause damage to Indian security in the region, apart from a violation of local laws. The defense counsels however, rejected the verdict as a politically motivated judgment and said they would appeal to the higher court. As we see the case was taken to the fore after a court ordered a fresh investigation in November 2007. On January 29, 2009, when the Awami League government came to power, the fifth investigation officer was appointed to replace the earlier one. He submitted a supplementary charge sheet implicating 11 more people including the two former ministers and all of them received the death sentence in the case now making it a highly controversial case. What is worrying is that handing down easily highest death sentence so easily to so many.