- Death verdict against Jamaat leader Kamaruzzaman upheld by Appellate Division of Supreme Court
- Jamaat calls two day countrywide hartal in protest for Tuesday and Wednesday
- Authorities call family to meet Kamaruzzaman for last time
- Kamaruzzaman’s lawyer, Shishir Mohammad Manir, seeks visit to client to discuss possibility of mercy petition to President
The death sentence against Jamaat Assistant Secretary General, Mohammad Kamaruzzaman, has been upheld this morning by the Supreme Court. The Appellate Division concluded hearing arguments from the prosecution and defence on Sunday, setting today to deliver the verdict.
A four-member bench of the Appellate Division, headed by Chief Justice SK Sinha, passed the order.
Kamaruzzaman was convicted of war crimes during the Independence War of 1971, at which time he was a boy of 17. The family and Jamaat have both rejected the verdict as politically motivated.
Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami has called countrywide hartal for two days, Tuesday and Wednesday, protesting the death penalty upheld against its leader. Jamaat’s hartal announcement came through a statement posted on its website on Monday morning shortly after the verdict was made at the Supreme Court. The party stated that this is an attempt to kill their leader, Assistant Secretary General, Mohammad Kamaruzzaman, and demanded his release.
On May 9, 2013, the Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal-2 condemned the Jamaat leader Mohammad Kamaruzzaman to death for alleged war crimes including murder, abduction, torture, rape and mass killing during the Liberation War in 1971. Kamaruzzaman, a boy of 17 at the time, has maintained his innocence throughout the proceedings and rejected the allegations as false and politically motivated.
He was sentenced to death on the charge of killing and rape which took place in Shohaghpur village of Nalitabari subdistrict in Sherpur district. Kamaruzzaman has maintained he never visited that village during 1971 or since, thus has no role in any crime there. Locals of Shohaghpur have denied any knowledge of Kamaruzzaman nor his involvement in any crime there. Upon investigation, villagers identified the Pakistan Army as responsible for a massacre there on June 25 1971, a day in which approximately 187 villagers were killed.
Kamaruzzaman’s lawyers have added that their client had no allegations raised against him in the 40 years since the war took place, including in the many history books written and from survivors and witnesses of the war, only for allegations to be made when the ICT was formed decades later.
The prison authorities on Monday afternoon asked relatives of Mohammad Kamaruzzaman to meet him for the last time at Dhaka Central Jail by 5:00pm. Shisir Mohammad Manir, a lawyer of Kamaruzzaman said that family members were informed about the meeting by a letter sent by Jail authorities. Three members of the prison authorities delivered the letter to the Jamaat leader’s Mirpur house at around 3:00pm, Manir said.
In a statement on social media, Hasan Iqbal, son of Kamaruzzaman, observed, “An innocent man will be killed tonight. We have received a letter from the jail authorities to visit my father Muhammad Kamaruzzaman for the last time before he starts his eternal journey in the afterlife. Please pray that such injustice does’t happen to anyone else, even to a killer and dictator like Sheikh Hasina.”
Iqbal further stated, “Those who believe in the hereafter and final judgement [before God] cannot be distressed by the verdict of a man-made tribunal. Especially of that [man-made] tribunal which sleeps with tyranny.”
Kamaruzzaman’ s lawyer, Shishir Mohammad Manir, asked permission of the jail authoriy to meet his client to discuss the legal issue over whether he will file a mercy petition to the President or not. Manir said, “We will decide our next steps after meeting Kamaruzzaman in jail. Now at this moment we cannot say what to do without discussing him (Kamaruzzaman).”
Kamaruzzaman’s death penalty cannot be executed until the copy of the judgement reaches the jail authorities, Shishir added.
On November 3 last year, the Supreme Court upheld the verdict of the ICT-2 that had condemned Kamaruzzaman death. On February 18, the ICT-2 issued a death warrant for Kamaruzzaman after receiving the full text of the Supreme Court verdict that upheld his death penalty.
Kamaruzzaman filed a petition on March 5 seeking review of the Appellate Division judgment upholding the death sentence. The Appellate Division on March 9 had fixed April 1 for the hearing. Then, on April 1, the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court deferred Kamaruzzaman’s review petition hearing to April 5 (Sunday).
On September 17 2013 the Bangladesh Supreme Court upheld the death penalty against Jamaat leader Abdul Quader Mollah. He was subsequently executed on December 12 2013 at 22.01pm. Molla was convicted by the ICT on February 5 2013 of crimes during the 1971 war, charges which he consistently denied. His family and party condemned the verdict as politically motivated, and Jamaat termed the execution a “political killing”.
While initially sentenced to life imprisonment, Mollah’s sentence was later retroactively changed to a death sentence in a move condemned by international rights bodies including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. While Mollah was executed and buried in his home village in the absence of family, who were not permitted to attend, nationwide funerals in absentia took place the following morning.