A Dhaka tribunal on Thursday handed death penalty to Jamaat-e-Islami leader Muhammad Kamaruzzaman for two wartime offences committed during the country’s 1971 Liberation War.
The International Crimes Tribunal-2 found him guilty of five out of seven charges leveled against him.
The prosecution failed to prove rest two charges, it said while reading out an excerpt of the verdict.
Besides death penalty for two charges, the assistant secretary general of Jamaat, which was instrumental to foil Bangladesh’s struggle for independence, was awarded life-term imprisonment in two cases and 10-year jail for the other offence.
“The history will not pardon,” a visibly aggrieved Kamaruzzaman said while being taken out of the dock of the tribunal after the verdict.
Strongly opposing the tribunal decision, the convict’s counsel Saifur Rahman said they would appeal against the judgement with the Supreme Court.
Hasan Iqbal, Kamaruzzaman’s son, told reporters that his father was deprived of justice.
“The allegations brought against him (Kamaruzzaman) are false. He is a victim of political vengeance of the government,” he said.
Meanwhile, happy at the verdict, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam said: “The nation got justice through the judgement.”
Earlier, a prison van carrying Kamaruzzaman entered the tribunal premises around 9:30am amid tight security.
The tribunal started reading out the 62-page summary of the 215-page judgement around 11:15am.
Kamaruzzaman was known to have been a key organiser of the Al-Badr, an auxiliary force of then Pakistani army which planned and executed the killing of Bangalee intellectuals at the fag end of the Liberation War, according to historical records.
The tribunal fixed the judgement day on Wednesday, 22 days after the completion of the case proceedings.
CHARGES AND PUNISHMENT
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 long and was shot to death the following day.
Finding Kamaruzzaman guilty of the charge, the tribunal awarded him life-term imprisonment.
In mid-May, 1971, Kamaruzzaman and his accomplices caused inhumane acts to pro-liberation intellectual Syed Abdul Hannan, the then principal of Sherpur College, by compelling him to walk naked through the town under constant whipping.
Kamaruzzaman was given 10-year jail for the offence.
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 women.
On August 23, 1971, on Kamaruzzaman’s instruction, 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 as he jumped into the river but suffered injuries in his fingers. Mostafa died on the spot.
Convinced of both the charges, the tribunal awarded Kamaruzzaman capital punishment.
In mid-Ramadan in 1971, Kamaruzzaman and his followers picked up Liakat Ali and Mujibur Rahman Panu from their respective houses, took them to a Razakar camp and tortured them there.
After four days of detention, on Kamaruzzaman’s order, the two along with 11 other civilians were shifted to Jhenaigati Ahammed Nagar army camp. Afterwards, eight of them were shot to death. The accused and his aide Kamran were present during the shooting.
In November 1971, under the instruction of Kamaruzzaman, some members of Al-Badr abducted Tunu and one Jahangir from Golki Bari and took them to the District Council Dak Bungalow in Mymensingh. Tunu was tortured to death. Jahangir was detained but was freed later.
The prosecution failed to prove these two allegations.
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 Dak Bungalow.
The next morning, the father and son along with five others were lined up 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 found him guilty of this charge and ordered life imprisonment.
Kamaruzzaman was arrested in a criminal case on July 13, 2010, and shown arrested on war crimes charges on August 2 the same year.
The prosecution pressed formal charges against him incorporating nine counts of crimes against humanity on January 15, 2012, and Tribunal-1 took the charges into cognisance on January 31. The case was transferred to Tribunal-2 on April 16, 2012.
On June 4, 2012, the tribunal indicted Kamaruzzaman on seven charges of crimes against humanity, including murder and torture of unarmed civilians and complicity in other crimes during the nine-month-long war.
The indictment order, in a brief profile of the accused, said Kamaruzzaman, as the president of Islami Chhatra Sangha of greater Mymensingh in 1971, had played the role of a key organiser in the formation of the Al-Badr force.
Under the leadership of Kamaruzzaman, all members of Chhatra Sangha of greater Mymensingh were absorbed into Al-Badr within a month. They, after receiving summary training, launched atrocities targeting the Hindus and unarmed Bangalee civilians in greater Mymensingh, the order said.
As many as 18 prosecution witnesses, including the investigation officer of the case, testified against the accused, while five people, including Kamaruzzaman’s son and brother, testified in favour of the accused between July 15, 2012 and March 24, 2013.
The prosecution and the defence held closing arguments from March 24 until April 16.
The two tribunals dealing with the war crimes cases have already delivered verdicts in three cases. Jamaat Nayeb-e-Ameer Delawar Hossain Sayedee and expelled Jamaat member Abul Kalam Azad were sentenced to death while Jamaat leader Abdul Quader Mollah received life imprisonment.
The verdict delivery in the war crimes case against former Jamaat chief Ghulam Azam is pending with Tribunal-1.