The Supreme Court (SC) has upheld death sentence for war criminals Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed and Salauddin Quader Chowdhury.
The SC passed the verdict by rejecting appeals by the criminals to review their death penalty for crimes against humanity during the country's 1971 War of Independence.
A four-member Appellate Division bench headed by Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha delivered the verdict at 11:30am today wrapping up the judicial process regarding the trial of the two key war criminals -- Mojaheed of Jamaat-e-Islami and Chowdhury of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).
Jamaat worked against Bangladesh’s independence by collaborating with Pakistan and its military in then East Pakistan and participated in the genocide that followed.
The SC bench ended hearing on Mojaheed's petition yesterday and fixed today for delivering its verdict. As the bench sat this morning, it also decided to deliver verdict on SQ Chowdhury’s petition on the same day.
The bench delivered both the ruling together.
After the verdict, Khandker Mahbub Hossain, principal lawyer of Mojaheed and Salauddin, said no one can refute today’s verdict as it came from the Appellate Division.
Asked about their next steps, Mahbub said, "It depends on the government and the convicts. The government can pardon the convicts if it wants or the convicts can seek presidential clemency.”
ALI AHSAN MOHAMMAD MOJAHEED
The Supreme Court on June 16 this year upheld the death penalty of Mojaheed, chief of infamous Al-Badr force, for planning and instigating the killing of intellectuals and professionals towards the end of the country's Liberation War.
The top court also upheld his life sentence, originally handed by a war crimes tribunal, for killing composer Altaf Mahmud, Jahir Uddin Jalal, Badi, Rumi (son of Shaheed Janani Jahanara Imam), Jewel and Azad at the Old MP Hostel at Nakhalpara in Dhaka.
The court upheld his five years' jail term for confining and torturing Ranjit Nath, a civilian, at a Bihari camp in Faridpur.
On July 17, 2013, the International Crimes Tribunal-2 found Mojaheed guilty of abducting and killing journalist Serajuddin Hossain. But the court did not give any separate sentence for this, as the offence was merged with those of the killings of intellectuals and professionals, for which the tribunal awarded him the death penalty.
The tribunal had also given Mojaheed death penalty for mass killings at Bakchar village in Faridpur, but the SC commuted his death sentence to life term on this charge.
On October 14, Jamaat-e-Islami leader Mojaheed submitted the review petitions.
The International Crimes Tribunal issued death warrants for the Jamaat leader on October 1, a day after the SC released the full verdicts.
On June 21, 2012, Mojaheed was indicted for planning to killof intellectuals just before Bangladesh's liberation on December 16, 1971.
SALAUDDIN QUADER CHOWDHURY
The apex court started hearing on Chowdhury’s review plea around 9:10am, which lasted little more than an hour.
During the hearing, the apex court said the documents submitted by Chowdhury on his study at a Panjab University in 1971 were not acceptable.
There are many anomalies in the statement of the university certificates given by a professor to Chowdhury, the court said.
Earlier, defence claimed that Salauddin was in Bangladesh during the Liberation War. He went to Pakistan on March 29, 1971 for studying in Punjab University and he returned to the country in 1974, they said.
Sentenced to die for war crimes, Chowdhury on October 14 filed the review petition to the SC seeking acquittal on all the charges levelled against him.
The International Crimes Tribunal issued death warrant for him on October 1, a day after the Supreme Court released its full verdict of the appeal hearing.
The SC upheld his capital punishment in July after hearing his appeal against the verdict delivered by the International Crimes Tribunal-1.
On October 1, 2013, the tribunal found Salauddin, now 66, guilty of nine of the 23 charges brought against him of committing crimes against humanity.
He was handed death penalty for four charges – involvement in the killing of Natun Chandra Singha, Awami League leader Mozaffar Ahmed and his son; and genocide in Raozan.
Law enforcers arrested Salauddin on December 16, 2010 at Banani in the capital in connection with torching a car in Moghbazar on June 26. He was shown arrested on December 19 following a warrant issued by the tribunal.