AKM Yusuf dies
The “founder of the Razakar force”, AKM Yusuf, died yesterday with the war crimes case against him at the final stage.
The 88-year-old Jamaat-e-Islami nayeb-e-ameer died around 11:30am at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University. He was taken there after he reportedly suffered a stroke and collapsed in Kashimpur Jail-1 earlier in the day.
Sources in the morgue said they believed Yusuf died of a hemorrhagic stroke but they would be able to confirm the cause of death after the results of the viscera tests were in. The body was handed over to the family yesterday evening after an autopsy.
Yusuf had been facing 13 war crimes charges and the closing argument of his case was scheduled to start on Wednesday.
AKM Nasiruddin Mahmud, registrar and spokesman for the international crimes tribunal, told The Daily Star last night that as per the Code of Criminal Procedure, an accused gets discharged after his or her death.
He said there was neither any specific provision in the International Crimes (Tribunal) Act nor in the rules of the tribunals about continuing or discontinuing proceedings against a deceased accused.
“Now the tribunal will decide,” he said.
CONTROVERSY OVER DEATH
Abdul Wahab, Yusuf's son-in-law, said the jail authority called him around 8:30am notifying him about Yusuf fainting. Yusuf had regained consciousness after some time, said Wahab.
Jamil Ahmed Chowdhury, superintendent of Kashimpur Jail-1, told The Daily Star that after checking his health, the jail doctor referred Yusuf to BSMMU.
Wahab claimed that around 10:15am the jail authorities took Yusuf to the emergency section of the cardiac department at BSMMU where doctors suggested him to the Intensive Care Unit.
As there was no vacant bed at the ICU, the authorities suggested that he be moved to Dhaka Medical College Hospital, said Wahab, adding that Yusuf died around 11:15am just after he was put inside an ambulance.
However, BSMMU Director (Hospital) Brig Gen (retd) Abdul Majid Bhuiyan told reporters that Yusuf was rushed to the hospital around 11:00am in a critical condition and doctors had tried their best to save his life.
He denied that any doctor of BSMMU had referred Yusuf to be taken to DMCH. Majid said Yusuf died on his way to the Coronary Care Unit of the hospital and it was not true that there were no empty beds there.
Tajul Islam, counsel for Yusuf, and Wahab alleged that Yusuf was not given proper treatment at BSMMU. “Getting treatment is a basic right but the hospital deprived him of that,” alleged Tajul.
After his death, Yusuf's counsel went to Tribunal-2 with a petition to allow Yusuf's family have his body without an autopsy done. But, the tribunal denied and said it needed to know the cause of his death.
After the autopsy at Dhaka Medical College, his body was taken to his Dhanmondi home. Yusuf's family were yet to decide when and where he would be laid to rest as of filing this report at 10:00pm.
Tajul Islam, counsel for Yusuf, said his client went through four heart surgeries and had colon cancer. They had sought bail for Yusuf several times but the tribunal denied them all.
In last October, the International Crimes Tribunal-2 denied Yusuf bail for the third time following a report from Kashimpur jail that his health was “stable”.
Yusuf in 1971 was deputy chief of Jamaat, a party which vehemently tried to prevent the birth of Bangladesh.
He had against him seven charges of genocide which left several hundred people dead in Khulna and Bagerhat during the Liberation War. The remaining six charges were related to killing, arson, looting, and forced conversion of Hindus to Muslims.
According to the brief profile read out by the tribunal in its indictment order on August 1, 2013, Yusuf, son of late Azim Uddin Howlader of Rajoir in Sharankhola of Bagerhat, joined Jamaat in 1952.
He became the chief of Khulna division Jamaat in 1957. In 1962, Yusuf was elected a member of the National Assembly. He was nominated provincial joint secretary of Jamaat in 1969.
In 1971, he was made the deputy ameer of the then East Pakistan Jamaat and he was one of the two provincial ministers from Jamaat.
According to prosecution documents, Yusuf established the Razakar force, an auxiliary force of the Pakistani army, on May 5, 1971, at an Ansar camp on Khan Jahan Ali Road in Khulna with 96 Jamaat activists. He also named the force.
Yusuf landed in jail on May 12 last year, hours after Tribunal-1 took the charges against him into cognisance. Later, his case was transferred to Tribunal-2.
A total 27 prosecution witnesses, including the investigation officer testified against Yusuf while his son Mahbubur Rahman testified as the lone defence witness.