The International Crimes Tribunal yesterday issued death warrant for convicted war criminal Motiur Rahman Nizami hours after the Supreme Court released its full verdict that upheld his death penalty.
The tribunal's registrar's office issued the warrant for the convict around 9:15pm following its directives, Registrar Shahidul Alam Jhinuk told The Daily Star last night.
The warrant was sent to the Dhaka Central Jail, he said, adding that copies of the warrant were also sent to the Dhaka district magistrate for “necessary actions” and to the home and the law ministries for “information”.
The registrar said his office received the copy of the full verdict around 7:00pm.
Contacted, Jahangir Kabir, senior jail superintendent of Dhaka Central Jail, said they received the death warrant at 9:50pm and “would send the warrant tonight [last night] to Kashimpur Jail-2 in Gazipur” where the Jamaat-e-Islami chief had been kept.
In October 2014, the International Crimes Tribunal-1 handed down capital punishment to Nizami, the leader of infamous Al-Badr Bahini, for committing crimes against humanity during the Liberation War.
Yesterday, the SC released its full verdict that upheld the death penalty of Nizami, leaving him with the option of seeking review of the judgment.
Talking to The Daily Star, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam said Nizami could file review petition with the SC within 15 days of receiving the copy of the full verdict.
The government could execute Nizami if he did not file the review petition within this deadline, he said.
The scope of reviewing the SC judgment in such a case is very limited, he said, adding that some convicted war criminals had sought review of the SC judgments on them, but no review petition was allowed.
Meanwhile, Nizami's principal lawyer Khandker Mahbub Hossain told this newspaper that his client would file a review petition with the SC within the deadline.
There are sufficient evidence and documents for reviewing the judgment against Nizami, he claimed.
If the review petition is rejected, the last option for Nizami will be to seek presidential mercy.
In October 2014, the ICT-1 gave Nizami death penalty on four charges and life imprisonment on four more charges. He then challenged the ICT-1 verdict at the apex court.
The SC on January 6 this year unanimously upheld the death penalty of Nizami for masterminding the killing of intellectuals and his involvement in two incidents of mass killing of over 500 people in Pabna in 1971.
A four-member SC bench headed by Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha upheld his death sentence on three charges and life imprisonment on two charges. It, however, acquitted him of the other three charges.
The other three judges of the bench are Justice Nazmun Ara Sultana, Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain and Justice Hasan Foez Siddique.
Nizami is the third former minister after Jamaat leader Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed and BNP leader Salauddin Quader Chowdhury to get death penalty for his notorious role during the 1971 war.
Jamaat secretary general Mojaheed, who was also the Al-Badr chief, was executed on November 22 last year.
The apex court in its full verdict on Nizami's appeal said Nizami, being the leader of Al-Badr Bahini, had the “authority and effective control over the members of this Bahini and he acquiesced all their atrocious activities” including the killing of intellectuals in 1971.
He had not only sided with the Pakistani occupation army but also “incited the members of Al-Badr Bahini to and Islami Chhatra Shanghha to cooperate with the Pakistan army” during the Liberation War, it observed.
“It has been proved further that the accused appellant [Nizami] gave order to Al-Badrs to kill Martyr Dr Abdul Alim -- the husband of PW 13 [Shyamoli Nasrin Chowdhury] and accordingly the Al-Badrs took away Dr Abdul Alim from his house on 15.12.1971 and killed him brutally. The appellant thus has clearly incurred the criminal liability for the crimes of intellectuals' killing by the Al-Badrs”, said the SC in its 153-page judgment.
It said Nizami, being a very active political leader at that time, had full knowledge about those atrocities. “But in spite of that, he, instead of prohibiting or discouraging the members of his Al-Badr Bahini, had continued giving speeches praising and encouraging them and also urging them to co-operate with the Pakistani army”.
In those speeches, he addressed the pro-liberation people and freedom fighters as “betrayers”, “miscreants”, “enemy of the country”, “agent of India”, etc. and urged the Al-Badrs and Rajakars to take revenge and to exterminate the enemies of the country, the SC judgment said.
The SC said Nizami was found to have committed a series of crimes of extremely cruel and inhuman nature during the Liberation War.
“The commission of series of crimes of most cruel and inhuman nature by an accused may be considered as aggravating circumstances for awarding him the maximum sentence,” it said.