Court decision could be overturned over $2m insurance payout following wife's murder
A businessman cleared of involvement in the killing of his wife has been allowed to appeal a legal decision denying him a $2 million life insurance policy.
Abdur Rahim Miah and his wife Afrouza Akter Miah took out the insurance policy 11 months before her murder, at the hands of Abdur Miah's brother, in May 2007.
Afrouza, a New Zealand citizen, was drugged, strangled and stuffed in a barrel after travelling to Bangladesh on business.
Miah's brother Bellal Hussain admitted hiring a hitman to carry out the killing, which caused a media storm in the country of 156 million people.
He was convicted and sentenced to 14 years in prison. Miah was acquitted of any involvement.
The High Court at Auckland dismissed a 2015 attempt by Miah to collect the life insurance money.
It ruled that Miah was ineligible as he was declared bankrupt shortly before his wife's death.
But in a Court of Appeal judgement released this week, Justice Raynor Asher said it was arguable that because the policy was jointly owned, ownership was severed on bankruptcy, meaning Afrouza's estate could be entitled to an equal share that Miah could enforce as Afrouza's executor.
A substantive civil hearing at the High Court is yet to be heard.
Miah and Afrouza married in Bangladesh in 1992 before moving to Auckland the following year. The pair - who had two sons - were partners in several Auckland-based property and cleaning businesses.
In June 2006, Miah and Afrouza took out a $2m life insurance policy with AMP over Afrouza's life, and life cover and income protection for Miah.
On April 4 the following year, Miah was declared bankrupt, owing creditors $900,000.
In late April, Afrouza returned to Bangladesh to take care of property interests.
Bangladesh newspaper The Daily Star reported that on May 22 Afrouza met her brother-in-law Hussain, who paid a hitman the equivalent of $2000 to help him with the killing.
Afrouza's body was found in a barrel by the side of a road in the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka.
Afrouza's brother, Yeasin Akin, who dined with his sister the night before her death and now lives in New Zealand, told Fairfax last year he still feels "scared" and "numb" knowing his sister was murdered.
"We were called to go to the morgue on the day after she died. I was thinking it can not be her, she was just missing, it must not be her.
"It was a big issue at the time. Every TV channel had big coverage and it was on the newspaper front page."
In an extraordinary twist, Afrouza's killer paid to get temporary bail six months into his prison sentence.
Hussain fled and his whereabouts are still unknown. The hitman has also been released.
Miah said he has not been in contact with his brother and suspects he is in hiding.
"Police couldn't find him. How long can he run? One day they'll get him."
Another of Afrouza's brothers, Mohammed Islam, said the case still haunted him.
"Sometimes I get up from sleep and think about it and I never get any justice, you know."
THE LIFE, DEATH AND LIFE INSURANCE OF AFROUZA AKTER MIAH
December 1970: Afrouza Akter Miah born in Bangladesh.
August 1992: Afrouza marries Abdur Rahim Miah in Bangladesh.
1993: Afrouza moves to New Zealand to join her husband.
June 2006: Life insurance policy issued for $2 million over the life of Afrouza.
April 2007: Miah declared bankrupt. Afrouza visits Bangladesh to arrange a property deal, while Miah and two sons remain in New Zealand
May 2007: Afrouza drugged with sleeping pills, murdered and dumped in a barrel (a post-mortem report indicates strangulation). Bellal Hussain arrested for the killing
June 2007: Miah's first claim for life insurance filed
October 2013: High Court dismisses Miah's first attempt to claim the life insurance money
March 2015: Miah returns to the High Court for another hearing to contest the life insurance
September 2015: High Court judgment dismisses Miah's claims to life insurance
December 2016: Court of Appeal allows Miah to appeal the High Court ruling.
A previous version of this story incorrectly said that Miah had had the legal decision denying him the $2 million life insurance policy overturned.