Bangladesh Special Tribunal Gives Death Sentence to a Second Jamaat Leader Leader Within a Week
Mir Quashem Ali of Jamaat-i-Islami
NEW DELHI: A second death sentence within a week was handed out by the special tribunal in Dhaka, this time to Mir Quasem Ali who led the Al-Badr and organised the torture of Bangladesh freedom fighters at a hotel in Chittagong during the 1971 Liberation War.
Ten out of 14 charges have been proved against the 62-year-old, according to the International Crimes Tribunal-2 .As the third most powerful man of the Al-Badr force, Ali got the death sentence for two charges.
One specific charge related to the torture and killing of freedom fighter Jasim along with five unidentified people after Eid-ul-Fitr of 1971 at Dalim Hotel at Andorkilla in Chittagong after abduction. The other charge, upheld now by the court, was the kidnapping of Jahangir Alam Chowdhury, Ranjit Das Prokash Latu and Tuntu Sen in November, 1971. Latu and Tuntu were later killed and their bodies were never found.
Mir Quasem is known as a key financier of the Jamaat e Islami, which has been accused of collaborating with the Pakistani occupation forces to carry out a virtual genocide during the Liberation war.
"The verdict was based on false witness accounts," defence counsel Mizanul Islam quoted the convict in his immediate reaction inside the court.
Alleging that they were deprived of justice, Islam said they would appeal to the Supreme Court.
Justice Obaidul Hassan, chairman of International Crimes Tribunal-2, read out 11 out of the 351-page judgement, according to Bangladesh newspaper The Daily Star.
Due to space constraint, the ICT-2 judges' panel delivered the verdict at ICT-1 courtroom.
Earlier, a prison van carrying Mir Quasem reached the court premises around 9:20am. He was produced before the court around 10:45am.
Apart from Mir Quasem, seven other top Jamaat leaders have already been sentenced for their 1971 crimes and two other top notches -- Abdus Subhan and ATM Azharul Islam -- are being tried in the war crimes tribunals.
Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami chief Motiur Rahman Nizami was only just been given the death penalty by the special tribunal in Dhaka. The four charges of war crimes that have invited the death order by the courts includes the killings of intellectuals at the end of the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War.
The International Crimes Tribunal has also found Nizami guilty of eight of the 16 charges levelled against him stating that while claiming to be an Islamic scholar, he had misinterpreted the Quran to encourage his followers to indulge in genocide. The trial has been on for 40 years, reaching a conclusion now.
Nizami’s lawyers will challenge the verdict in the country’s Supreme Court insisting that it was ‘not based on evidence.” Whatever is being told against me is false," defence counsel Tajul Islam said quoting Nizami after the court verdict.
The Bangladesh Daily Star reported that processions were held in Dhaka welcoming the verdict. Security has, however, become an issue with extra police protection for the courts. Six top Jamaat leaders have now been punished for the 1971 crime, while two are under trial in war crimes tribunals. The Awami League led government has made it a mission to ring the perpetrators of 1971 war crimes to book.
The Daily Star giving a background of the case reported, “The ICT-1 framed 16 charges against Nizami on May 28, 2012. According to the charges, Nizami had conspired with the Pakistani army, planned and incited crimes; was complicit in murders, rapes, looting and destruction of property; and was responsible for commissioning of internationally recognised wartime crimes in 1971.
But, it took around one and a half years for the completion of the trial, thanks to the lack of preparation of the prosecution and a range of dilatory tactics of the defence.
The tribunal first kept the case awaiting verdict on November 13 last year. But the proceeding faced further delay when tribunal's chairman Justice ATM Fazle Kabir went on retirement without delivering the judgment. His successor reheard the closing arguments and kept the verdict waiting again on March 24.
The tribunal could not deliver verdict on June 24 due to Nizami's sudden "illness" forcing the court to keep it waiting again.
The Jamaat chief played a key role in forming the four-party alliance ahead of the 2001 election and led his party to taste state power along with their key ally the BNP.
He and Jamaat's second man, Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed, who was convicted in war crimes last year, became members of Khaleda Zia's cabinet, amid protests from the country's pro-liberation minds.”