Immediately after the independence, Muhammad Kamaruzzaman was arrested in Dhaka for collaborating with the Pakistan army in their atrocities during the Liberation War and had been in jail for several months.
He, however, escaped trial for unknown reasons.
In the last four decades, the Jamaat-e-Islami assistant secretary general was successful not only in dodging trial but also in establishing himself as a central leader of the party. He enjoyed a free life until July 2010 when he was arrested.
Though families of the martyrs and the victims, who were tortured by the Jamaat leader in 1971, got justice after the International Crimes Tribunal-2 on May 9, 2013 awarded him death penalty, they were gripped with an apprehension that the verdict might be overruled by the Supreme Court as Kamaruzzaman’s appeal was pending with the court.
However, ending all apprehension and speculations, the apex court on November 3 last year upheld the death sentence for his crimes against humanity committed in 1971. But Kamaruzzaman filed a review petition which was dismissed by the SC on April 6.
Kamaruzzaman was born to Insan Ali Sarkar of Kumri Mudipara in Sherpur on July 4, 1952. He got involved with Islami Chhatra Sangha (ICS), the then student wing of Jamaat, when he was a student of class X, according to prosecution documents.
He passed the Secondary School Certificate examination from GKM Institute in Sherpur in 1967.
Soon he became the general secretary of a dormitory unit of the ICS at Jamalpur Ashek Mahmud College and then the president of the organisation's greater Mymensingh unit (Mymensingh, Jamalpur and Sherpur) in 1971.
Prosecution documents also show that Al-Badr, an auxiliary force of the Pakistan army, was formed after the occupation army entered Jamalpur on April 22, 1971. The entire Mymensingh district unit of the ICS joined Al-Badr within a month under Kamaruzzaman's leadership.
The identity of Kamaruzzaman as the chief organiser of Al-Badr is very much evident from a report published in Jamaat’s mouthpiece, the daily Sangram on August 16, 1971.
The report said Momenshahi [Mymensingh] Al-Badr had organised a rally and a symposium at local Muslim Institute on August 15 marking the 25th independence day of Pakistan, and Kamaruzzaman had chaired the programme as the chief organiser of Al-Badr.
After taking a short training, Al-Badr members started committing atrocities targeting the Hindus and unarmed Bangalees of the greater Mymensingh region, according to prosecution documents.
After the Liberation War, Kamaruzzaman was arrested in the capital on December 29, 1971 as a collaborator of the Pakistan army.
The Bangla daily Purbadesh ran a report headlined "15 more collaborators including Deen Mohammad arrested" on December 31, 1971. The Dainik Bangla published another report headlined "15 more collaborators arrested" the same day.
Kamaruzzaman was 14th on the list of arrestees published in the reports. He was 287th on a list of arrested collaborators in Dhaka. This list was prepared by the Directorate of National Security Intelligence (NSI) Bangladesh on April 13, 1972.
News of his arrest was substantiated from the testimony of Kamaruzzaman's elder brother Kafil Uddin, also the fourth defence witness in the case.
During cross-examination, Kafil said Kamaruzzaman was detained at Kamalapur Railway Station when the latter had gone to Dhaka towards the end of 1971 but was released after 90-105 days.
Sources in the Tribunal investigation agency say Kamaruzzaman sat for the HSC examinations from Dhaka Central Jail in 1972 and got released after around nine months as no case was filed against him in the capital. But a case was filed against him in Mymensingh under the Collaborator Act, 1972.
However, he was not arrested in connection with that case.
Md Hasanuzzaman, a resident of Gridda Narayanpur under Sherpur's Nalitabari upazila, filed a murder case with Nalitabari police accusing Kamaruzzaman and 17 others of their involvement in the killing of his brother Badiuzzaman, according to the findings published by the People’s Inquiry Commission in March 1994.
Badiuzzaman’s killing is one of the seven charges framed against Kamaruzzaman. Hasanuzzaman, who was the sixth prosecution witness, told the tribunal of the case he had filed after the independence.
During cross-examination, he however said he could not follow up to the case later.
International Crimes Tribunal-2 found Kamaruzzaman guilty of Badiuzzaman's killing and handed down life sentence on the charge. The Supreme Court, however, acquitted him of the charge.
After Jamaat's student wing ICS re-emerged with a new name -- Islami Chhatra Shibir -- in 1977, Kamaruzzaman became its president in the second executive committee, according to prosecution documents.
The war criminal joined Jamaat in 1979.
He obtained his bachelor's degree in 1974 and master’s in journalism from Dhaka University in 1976, according to defence documents.
He joined the monthly Dhaka Digest as executive editor in 1980. Next year, he took charge of the weekly Sonar Bangla as its editor in 1981 and remained in that position even after his arrest. He joined the daily Sangram as executive editor in November 1983 and served in that capacity until 1993.
He joined Jamaat’s Dhaka city unit in October 1979 and served as the unit's joint secretary in 1981-82. He was the central Jamaat's publicity secretary from 1983 to 1991. He had been serving as an assistant secretary general of the party since 1992, according to defence documents.
Kamaruzzaman, father of five sons and a daughter, contested the parliamentary elections in 1986, 1991, 1996, 2001 and 2008 but never won.