The Supreme Court yesterday upheld the death sentence of former Jatiya Party leader Syed Mohammad Qaisar, for his involvement in crimes against humanity and war crimes -- including killing and rape -- during the 1971 Liberation War.
The apex court delivered the verdict, allowing an appeal in part filed by Qaisar -- a local leader of the then Razakar and Peace Committee, two anti-liberation forces -- challenging the International Crimes Tribunal-2 verdict that sentenced him to death for the crimes committed in Habiganj and Brahmanbaria in 1971.
A four-member bench of the Appellate Division of the SC headed by Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain came up with a short verdict at 9:05am, without disclosing the names of the judges who gave the majority and minority views.
The top court maintained the punishment including death penalty, imprisonment for life and imprisonment for different tenures to Qaisar, the founder of Qaisar Bahini, in 10 charges and acquitted him in the other four charges in which the ICT-2 had convicted and sentenced him on December 23, 2014.
Among the seven charges in which the ICT-2 had sentenced Qiasar to death, the SC yesterday upheld death penalty in three charges, commuted his death sentence to life imprisonment in three charges and acquitted him in another charge. The grounds and observation on which the SC delivered the verdict could not be known immediately, as its full text has not been released yet.
As a norm, Qaisar -- now in Dhaka Central Jail -- was not brought to the SC yesterday when the verdict was delivered.
Qaisar, a former state minister of the HM Ershad regime, is the first war criminal whose death sentence has been upheld by the SC on charge of rape, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam told reporters at his office after the verdict was announced.
Qaisar can file a petition with the SC seeking review of its judgement. The review petition will have to be filed after the convict receives certified copy of the judgement.
If the SC rejects the review petition, Qaisar can seek president’s clemency. If the president does not grant the mercy petition, then the verdict of death sentence will be executed, he said.
Meanwhile, Qaiser’s counsel Advocate SM Shahjahan told reporters that his client will file a review petition with the SC after receiving certified copy of its verdict.
Law Minister Anisul Huq told The Daily Star that the government would execute the apex court verdict on completion of all legal procedures.
Expressing satisfaction at the judgement, he said, “Whenever the persons who have committed crimes against humanity are punished through due process, I feel satisfied and also feel that justice has prevailed.”
Five Jamaat leaders have already been executed for committing crimes during the Liberation War while another senior leader, Delawar Hossain Sayedee, is serving jail until death for the same offences.