The International Crimes Tribunal-1 yesterday handed down death penalty to two Netrakona men after holding them guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity committed during the Liberation War.
They were members of local Razakar Bahini, an auxiliary force of Pakistan army, and directly took part in crimes like confinement, torture, killing and an act of genocide that left seven Hindus dead.
“Both the accused are found to have collaborated with the Pakistan occupation army in conducting attacks with extreme aggression and antagonism that resulted in barbaric crimes like crimes against humanity and genocide,” the tribunal said.
The convicted criminals are -- Hedayet Ullah Anju, 80, and Sohrab Fakir, 88. Of them, Sohrab is now in jail while Hedayet is on the run.
The third accused -- Enayet Ullah Manju, 70, a brother of Anju, died of old age complications in custody on January 25, 2017 and was abated from the case.
“It has been found proved that the accused persons knowingly participated and aided the criminal mission with intent to intimidate, harm and wipe out the pro-liberation and Hindu civilians,” the tribunal added.
Hedayet was the organising secretary of Jamaat in the Netrakona sub-division in 1971. He contested the Pakistan National Election in 1970 with Jamaat ticket but was defeated. During the war, he first joined Peace Committee, another anti-liberation force, and later Razakar Bahini, according to the prosecution.
Sohrab was a Jamaat activist in 1971 and was a “notorious” member of Razakar Bahini, they said. Both were prosecuted under the Collaborator Order, 1972 after the war but their trials were not completed, according to the investigators.
Tribunal’s Chairman Justice Md Shahinur Islam and members Justice Amir Hossain and Justice Md Abu Ahmed Jamadar read out the summary of the 218-page verdict in presence of Sohrab, prosecution team, investigators, defence and journalists.
It asked the home secretary and inspector general of police to take necessary measures to ensure Hedayet’s arrest.
Prosecutor Mukhlesur Rahman Badal expressed satisfaction as they have been able to prove all six charges.
State-appointed defence counsel Abdus Shukur Khan, however, said his clients did not get justice and will suggest them to file an appeal with the higher court.
With the latest verdict, the war crimes tribunals have so far delivered 37 judgements against 87 people. Of them, 61 have been sentenced to death.
According to the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act, 1973, a war crimes convict can file an appeal with the Supreme Court within 30 days from the date when the verdict is pronounced.
CHARGES AND CONVICTION
Hedayet and Sohrab were found guilty of plundering and setting fire to 20-30 houses in Hindu-dominated Shahapara in Atpara and forcing many Hindus to leave the country. They were given 10 years’ jail for the offences.
Hedayet was given death penalty for confinement, arson, torture and killing of two people in Atpara’s Mobarakpur Purbopara village.
Hedayet and Sohrab got death penalty for confinement, arson, torture and killing of Helim Talukder, brother of two freedom fighters, at Modon Dakkhin Para village under Madan upazila.
They were given death penalty for their role in an act of genocide at Sukhari in Atpara that left seven Hindu men dead, and forcing many to leave the country.
Sohrab was given 10 years’ jail for abduction, confinement and torture of one Hamid Hossain of Madan Majhpara.
Both the convicts were given 10 years’ jail for burning down 150-200 houses at Modon Dakkhin Para. The jail term would naturally be merged into the death sentence, the tribunal said.
The tribunal said the global community should recognise the genocide in Bangladesh during the war so that such crimes do not recur.
Global community is now expected to stand up and recognise the genocide that took place in Bangladesh in 1971 and also to raise voice by saying “never again”, the tribunal said.
The parliament on March 11, 2017 unanimously adopted a resolution to observe March 25 as Genocide Day. The international community is yet to recognise the genocide.