The war crimes tribunal yesterday convicted three brothers from Habiganj of crimes against humanity and handed down death penalty to one of them and jail until death to the others.
“The accused persons being members of local Razakar Bahini took extremely culpable stance against the pro-liberation civilians of the locality,” the court said in its verdict.
All the four charges brought against the three -- Muhibur Rahman Boro Mia, Mujibur Rahman Angur Mia and their cousin Abdur Razzak -- were proved, it said.
Muhibur, 65, was awarded death sentence while his younger brother Mujibur, 60, and cousin Razzak, 60, were sentenced to jail until death for their involvement in the killing of a freedom fighter and abduction of another freedom fighter who never returned.
Regarding the execution of Muhibur who shot dead freedom fighter Rajab Ali on November 11, 1971, the three-member tribunal led by Justice Anwarul Haque said he could be executed “by hanging or shooting”.
The other two participated in facilitating the murder. The criminal activities and unlawful acts of the three brothers did not happen in seclusion. Those were carried out in broad daylight but nobody resisted the attacks, given the context and the notoriety of Razakar Bahini, according to the judgment.
“Accused persons had acted deliberately as part of 'collective criminality' in accomplishing the purpose of attacks, being aware of consequence of their acts,” said the International Crimes Tribunal-1, with two other judges -- Justice Md Shahinur Islam and Justice Md Shohrowardi, in presence of the convicts, their family members, prosecutors, defence lawyers and journalists.
Prosecutor Sultan Mahmud Simon said, “We are happy and hope that the victim's family members will get some solace following the verdict.”
Defence counsel Masud Rana said his clients did not get justice. The defence will challenge the verdict at the Supreme Court, he said, expressing the hope of getting justice there.
According to law, a war crimes convict can file an appeal with the SC within 30 days from the date of the verdict's pronouncement.
Meanwhile, the judges expressed discontent as none from the prosecution appeared in the court before they took seat at 10:30am. Prosecutor Simon turned up at 10:33am.
CASE PROCEEDINGS, CHARGES AND PUNISHMENT
The prosecution in May last year pressed the four charges against Muhibur and Mujibur, of Kumurshana village, who had been elected as chairman of Khagaura Union Parishad in Baniachang upazila of Habiganj after independence.
Razzak, of Hossainpur village, was implicated later.
The three were indicted in September.
During the trial, the prosecution produced 12 witnesses, including the case's investigation officer, and submitted several documents while seven witnesses testified in favour of the accused.
According to the first charge, the convicts were involved in the killing of Rajab Ali and abduction of another freedom fighter, Akal Ali.
The convicts along with other Razakars and Pakistani army men looted and torched the houses of Maj Gen (retd) MA Rob, Liberation War's deputy commander-in-chief, according to the second charge. The tribunal handed down 10 years' rigorous imprisonment to all the three for these crimes.
The third charge reads the brothers identified two women before Pakistani army men who then raped them. The court gave them 20 years' rigorous imprisonment in this connection.
The three convicts were also given seven-year imprisonment in connection with the fourth charge -- for involvement in the abduction, confinement and torture of an unarmed civilian during the 1971 war of independence.
The sentences of imprisonment shall run concurrently, and other sentences will be merged with the execution of death penalty, the tribunal said.
With the latest verdict, two war crimes tribunal so far delivered 24 judgments. Thirty-four people were convicted, including 24 sentenced to death, of the crimes they committed during the Liberation War.