By Dustin Brown
The attorneys for two Bangladeshi men found guilty of participating in a gang assault outside an Astoria club two years ago are disputing the verdict, claiming their clients are innocent and the jury misunderstood the law.
A Queens jury convicted seven men of gang assault on Feb. 13 and also found five of them guilty of first-degree assault and criminal possession of a weapon, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.
But the two men who were acquitted of everything but the gang assault charge – Sakib Chowdhury, 21, and Basudeb Chakrabarty, 20, both of the Bronx – only observed the fight but did not participate, one of their lawyers contends.
“I believe the jurors misunderstood the law,” said Ronald Nir, the Kew Gardens attorney representing Chowdhury.
Nir said he plans to file a motion to set aside the verdict sometime next week.
The men face up to 25 years in prison when they are sentenced March 17, Brown said.
The attack, carried out by a group of Bangladeshis against two men also of Bangladeshi heritage, occurred two years ago on their country's independence day – Feb. 21, 2001 – outside the Kasturi Country Club on 36th Street in Astoria, Brown said.
The defendants instigated a fight with a 22-year-old man outside the club, then assaulted the victim's 24-year-old friend when he tried to intervene, Brown said.
The two victims each sustained such injuries as a broken nose, stab wound and slashing across the face, Brown said.
Nir said the jury foreman told him after the trial that jurors convicted Chowdhury because he was part of the group that beat up the two men – even though they did not believe he played any role in the actual assault.
“What the jury focused on was that my client left the scene with the people who actually committed the acts,” Nir said in a phone interview Monday. “I think my client was convicted not for having done anything but for having left with them.”
Nir said his client's name was only mentioned three times during the trial and never in connection with the actual assault.
The attorney representing Chakrabarty, Michael Horn, was not available for comment, but he told the Daily News that he also plans to file a motion to set aside the verdict.
An eighth man, Mohammed Sayed, 24, of Astoria was acquitted of all charges.
A spokeswoman for Queens District Attorney Richard Brown declined to comment on the case.
“We will respond in court when a motion is filed in court,” she said.
Reach reporter Dustin Brown by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.