15 days in hand for review plea
Jamaat-e-Islami leader Muhammad Kamaruzzaman has 15 days to file a review petition with the Supreme Court to know the final say on its verdict that has upheld his death penalty for war crimes.
The countdown started yesterday, said Attorney General Mahbubey Alam.
The development comes after the SC yesterday released the full verdict on Kamaruzzaman's appeal against his capital punishment handed by a war crimes tribunal about two years ago.
A copy of the full verdict reached the International Crimes Tribunal-2, which sentenced him to death in May 2013, last night. The tribunal may issue an “execution of death warrant” today or tomorrow, a tribunal source said.
Through the review petition, he can pray to the Appellate Division of the apex court for an examination whether there has been any error in the judgment on his appeal.
In case his petition is rejected, Kamaruzzaman, a key organiser of the infamous Al-Badr Bahini responsible for abducting, torturing and killing freedom fighters, intellectuals and pro-liberation people in 1971, may file for presidential mercy.
The death sentence cannot be executed while the review or the clemency petition is pending, according to an earlier order of the country's top court on Abdul Quader Mollah's review petition.
In that order, the SC had also said review petitions should be disposed of on a priority basis.
The war crimes accused are tried under the International Crimes Tribunal Act-1973. Since this law has no provision for filing review petitions, the SC has exercised its inherent power to reach the decision in Quader Mollah's petition to allow both the defence and the prosecution to file for reviews.
Jamaat leader Quader Mollah was executed on December 12, 2012, for war crimes committed during the 1971 Liberation War.
Shishir Manir, a lawyer for Kamaruzzaman, yesterday said his client would file a review petition in 15 days upon receiving a certified copy of the judgment.
"The decision of seeking presidential mercy will be made if the review petition is rejected by the Appellate Division," he told The Daily Star.
Asked about the next course of action, the attorney general said now there was no legal bar on the government to fix a date for executing Kamaruzzaman and to start the process to this end.
“But the process will remain suspended if he files a review petition," he told this paper.
According to him, the Appellate Division might take maximum one week for hearing and disposing of the petition.
And if the president rejects Kamaruzzaman's mercy petition, he will walk the gallows within a day or two after the rejection, he said, adding that the entire legal procedure might be completed in three to four weeks from now.
Under the jail code, a death row convict is executed not before seven days and not after 21 days of the dismissal of the review petition.
But according to the apex court's order on Quader Mollah's petition, this provision is not applicable to war crimes convicts.
On May 9, 2013, the tribunal-2 found Kamaruzzaman guilty of five out of the seven charges brought against him and sentenced him to death on two charges, life term on two and 10 years' jail on another. He was acquitted of two counts of war crimes.
He challenged this verdict with the SC, which on November 3 last year upheld the death penalty for the mass killing at Sohagpur in Sherpur on July 25, 1971.
The four-member SC bench headed by Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha upheld his conviction on this charge unanimously, and his death penalty by a majority decision.
Justice Abdul Wahab Miah, however, sentenced Kamaruzzaman to life term imprisonment.
In the 577-page verdict, the apex court said Kamaruzzaman and his force killed people of Sohagpur village in Sherpur one by one and this killing spree continued for six hours.
"The killing spree was such as if they were hunting birds and animals," said Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha, now the chief justice.
"We cannot imagine how the accused being a Bangalee citizen could involve in such gruesome inhuman acts and from such conduct, he does not deserve any compassionate consideration on the question of sentence," said Justice Sinha.
"We cannot think of giving him any lesser sentence at least in respect of this charge which will defeat the ends of justice," he asserted.
Justice Hasan Foez Siddique and Justice AHM Shamsuddin Choudhury Manik have fully concurred with the findings, analyses of evidence, interpretation of laws and sentences handed down by Justice Sinha.
"Every bit of the opinion of Mr Justice Sinha is based on law and evidence. There can, therefore, be no question of any disagreement therewith. I fully endorse the opinion expressed therewith," said Justice Foez Siddique.
"It is the duty of the court to impose a proper punishment depending upon the degree of criminality," he added.
Justice Manik said, "We must not be over compassionate when sentencing a felon of the appellant's type, but must think of the trail of horror his acts left behind for successive generations…. I remain indubitably convinced that the interest of justice can only be met if this appellant is shown the gallows."