International Crimes Tribunal-2 has found Muhammad Kamaruzzaman, one of the key organisers of the infamous Al Badr force, guilty of committing crimes against humanity during the Liberation War and has sentenced him to death.
The 61-year-old Jamaat-e-Islami senior assistant secretary general was found guilty of mass killing, murder, abduction, torture, rape, persecution, and abetment of torture in greater Mymensingh district in 1971.
Tribunal-2 Chairman Justice Obaidul Hassan and two other members, Justice Md Mozibur Rahman Miah and judge Md Shahinur Islam, were unanimous in finding Kamaruzzaman guilty and thus they handed down the sentence of capital punishment.
The tribunal tried Kamaruzzaman over his crimes in 1971, when he was a top leader of greater Mymensingh Islami Chhatra Sangha, the then student wing of Jamaat, and was also the office secretary of East Pakistan Islami Chhatra Sangha.
The tribunal framed seven charges against him but the prosecution was able to prove five of them. Of the five, he was sentenced to death in two charges, life imprisonment in two other charges and 10 years’ imprisonment in one charge.
“We are convinced from the evidence, oral and documentary, led by the prosecution and the sourced documents, that the accused [Kamaruzzaman] at the relevant time had acted as an atrocious and potential leader of Al-Badr to the actual accomplishment of the crimes charged and beyond,” Justice Hassan read from the concluding part of the judgment.
“The accused’s conscious and culpable conduct — antecedent, contemporaneous and subsequent, as have been found — all point to his guilt and are well consistent with his complicity and participation in the commission of the crimes proved.
“As a result, we conclude that the accused Muhammad Kamaruzzaman had complicity in the commission of the offences in relation to charge nos. 1, 2, 3, 4 and 7 for which he has been charged in the capacity of a potential leader and chief organiser of Al-Badr, which was truly an action section of Jamaat-e-Islami.”
The verdict also termed Al-Badr an auxiliary force of the Pakistani army that killed 3 million Bangalees, raped around a quarter million women, forced 10 million Bangalees to take refuge in India and displaced innumerable people inside Bangladesh during the nine-month-long war.
The verdict criticised the role of the Jamaat-e-Islami during the war.
The judgment said, “The Jamaat-e-Islami rather could have played a role in preventing the commission of atrocities by exercising its control over its creations, the Al-Badr, Razakars, Al-Shams and the Peace Committees.
“But instead of doing it, as an organisation, the Jamaat-e-Islami evidently appears to have substantially and consciously contributed especially to Al-Badr, its fascist armed wing, in carrying out dreadful criminal activities in violation of customary international law in 1971 during the war of liberation of Bangladesh.”
While delivering the verdict the tribunal said crimes against humanity were predominantly shocking to the conscience of mankind. It said the tribunal carefully considered how Kamaruzzaman committed the crimes and the gravity of the crimes he committed.
“Undeniably, the punishment must reflect both the calls for justice from the persons who have directly or indirectly been victims and sufferers of the crimes, as well as respond to the call from the nation as a whole to end impunity for massive human rights violations and crimes committed during the war of liberation in 1971,” Justice Hassan said.
Kamaruzzaman appeared in court yesterday wearing a full sleeve white shirt, black trousers and shoes. He was taken to the dock at 11.05am. The tribunal judges started reading out the 62-page summary of the 215-page verdict at 11:22am and finished around 2:00pm.
For the most part, Kamaruzzaman sat in the dock silent but just before he was about to be sentenced, he stood up from his chair and shouted “wrong judgment” at the judges.
When the police were taking him to the locker from the dock, he said, “History doesn’t forgive anyone. All will have to stand in the dock of history.”
His lawyer Abdur Razzak later said the defence would appeal against the verdict to the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court.
According to the International Crimes Tribunal Act, 1973, the defence and the prosecution would have to appeal within 30 days of the tribunal verdict delivery.
Meanwhile, the prosecution expressed satisfaction over the verdict. Attorney General Mahbubey Alam said, “The nation has got justice.”
Jamaat and its student wing Islami Chhatra Shibir activists brought out flash protest processions and vandalised vehicles in some places outside the capital while people of all walks of life brought out celebratory processions in some places.
Several hundred lawyers, journalists and observers gathered at the tribunal to witness the judgment delivery in Kamaruzzaman’s case yesterday. Strong security measures were in place in and around the old high court building where the tribunals are. Many could not get in and had to wait outside.
Hasan Iqbal, the eldest among the six children of Kamaruzzaman, was present in the courtroom yesterday.
The 33-year-old, a research executive of now-closed Diganta Television, said, “All the allegations [against his father] are baseless.”
Expressing his disappointment over the court’s observation about Jamaat’s role in 1971, Hasan Iqbal said, “I did not expect a reprimand of Jamaat in the judgment.”
Musharraf Hossain Talukder, brother of martyr Golam Mostafa, a victim of Kamaruzzaman’s atrocities, expressed satisfaction over the verdict.
Musharraf, who also testified as prosecution witness in the case, told The Daily Star over the phone last night that the 42-year-long wait for justice came to an end with the verdict.
“Souls of the martyred will find peace, once the verdict is executed,” Musharraf added.
DEATH IN TWO CHARGES
On July 25, 1971, Kamaruzzaman advised members of Al-Badr and Razakar forces to commit a large-scale massacre in association with Pakistani troops in Sohagpur village of Nalitabari upazila in Sherpur. The collaborators murdered 164 unarmed civilians, 44 of whom have been named, and raped many women. So many men were killed in the attack that later on Sohagpur became known as Bidhoba Palli (village of widows).
On August 23, 1971, on Kamaruzzaman’s instructions, collaborators took Golam Mostafa of Gridda Narayanpur village in Sherpur to an Al-Badr camp. Kamaruzzaman and his accomplices brought Mostafa and one Abul Kasem to Serih Bridge and gunned them down.
Kasem survived jumping into the river but suffered injuries in his fingers. Mostafa died on the spot.
The tribunal in its order said Kamaruzzaman be convicted and condemned to a single sentence of death for these two crimes. ‘He be hanged by the neck till he is dead’ as per the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act, 1973.
LIFE IMRPISONMENT IN TWO CHARGES
On June 29, 1971, under the leadership of Kamaruzzaman, a group of Al-Badr members abducted Badiuzzaman of Ramnagar village under Jhenaigati upazila in Sherpur. He was tortured at Ahammed Nagar army camp all night and was shot to death the following day.
On Ramadan 27, Kamaruzzaman accompanied by 15-20 armed Al-Badr members abducted one Tepa Mia and his elder son Zahurul Islam Dara from Golapjan Road in Mymensingh. They were taken to the Al-Badr camp at District Council Bungalow. The next morning, the father and son along with five others were lined up and shot on the bank of the Brahmaputra river. Tepa Mia managed to escape by jumping into the river, but the other six were killed on the spot.
The tribunal awarded him “a single sentence of life imprisonment” for the offences.
10 YEARS IN ONE CHARGE
In mid-May, 1971, Kamaruzzaman and his accomplices inflicted inhumane torture on pro-liberation intellectual Syed Abdul Hannan, the then principal of Sherpur College, by compelling him to walk naked through the town under constant whipping.
The tribunal awarded him 10 years in prison for the crime he committed.
ACQUITTED OF TWO CHARGES
In mid-Ramadan of 1971, Kamaruzzaman and his followers allegedly picked up Liakat Ali and Mujibur Rahman Panu from their respective houses and took them to a Razakar camp and tortured them there. After four days of detention, on Kamaruzzaman’s alleged order, the two along with 11 other civilians were moved to Jhenaigati Ahammed Nagar army camp. Afterwards, 10 of them were shot dead. The accused and his aide Kamran were present during the alleged shooting.
In November 1971, under the alleged instruction of Kamaruzzaman, some members of Al-Badr abducted Tunu and one Jahangir from Golki Bari and took them to the District Council Bungalow in Mymensingh. Tunu was tortured to death. Jahangir was detained but was freed later.
The tribunal acquitted Kamaruzzaman in the two charges.