The full text of the Supreme Court judgment upholding the death penalty for Muhammad Kamaruzzaman is likely to be released any day this week.
It will clear the way for the Jamaat assistant secretary general to seek a review of his capital punishment by the apex court.
All the four SC judges, who had delivered the verdict on November 3 last year by a majority decision, have recently completed writing their parts of the judgment, an SC source said.
The parts of the judgment will be compiled into a full verdict and then the judges will affix their signs on it for its release.
Kamaruzzaman, an Assistant Secretary General of Jamaat-e-Islami who are currently in opposition, faces a total of seven charges levied against him in relation to crimes committed during the 1971 war. He denies all charges as baseless and pleaded innocent. His lawyers and family have alleged his trial was politically motivated and replete with flaws.
Among criticisms of the trial process are that during the war he was a teenager thus ineligible for the high paramilitary role he is alleged to have held. Furthermore, the charges against him are all unprecedented; in the 40 years since the war, no charges or allegations of any crimes during the war were levied against him. This included in the post war period when Kamaruzzaman was arrested among many during mass arrests of those suspected of being local collaborators. No evidence was found against Kamaruzzaman and he was immediately released.
Criticisms have also emerged regarding the trial process, including the arbitrary limit to only five witnesses placed on the defence with no such limit placed on the prosecution. The ICT has also faced criticism following the “tribunalgate” scandal wherein leaked recordings revealed collusion between judges, prosecution, government officials and individuals external to the trial with vested interests.
Talking to The Daily Star on Friday, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam said Kamaruzzaman has to file the review petition with the SC within 15 days after the release of the full judgment.
The Appellate Division of the SC might take a few days for hearing and disposing of the review petition, if filed by the convict, he added. The scope for reviewing judgments in criminal cases is very little, observed the attorney general.
If the SC does not review its judgment in the war crimes case, Kamaruzzaman can seek presidential mercy.
Justice SK Sinha, now the chief justice, headed the four-member SC bench. The other members were Justice Md Abdul Wahhab Miah, Justice Hasan Foez Siddique and Justice AHM Shamsuddin Choudhury Manik. The SC has so far completed the trials of two war crimes accused, while the trials of seven others are pending with it.
On 15 February 2015, Kamaruzzaman’s party, Jamaat-e-Islami issued a statement condemning the impending verdict and alleging the government is intending to execute Kamaruzzaman as an act of political expediency in the current political impasse gripping the nation.