Jamaat leader, Mohammad Kamaruzzaman, executed

kamaruzzaman-speaking-at-a-gathering

Mohammad Kamaruzzaman, 62, senior assistant secretary general of opposition political party Jamaat-e-Islami, has been executed by hanging at Dhaka Central Jail. The execution took place at 10.30pm local time on April 11 2015.

Kamaruzzaman, a teenager in 1971, was sentenced to death on charges of war crimes during the 1971 War of Independence. He denied all charges. His family and lawyers stated that during and since the war, Kamaruzzaman was not implicated in any crimes whether in legal cases or history books. They state the allegations levied against him were created for political expediency and are politically motivated. Jamaat, in protest at Kamaruzzaman’s execution, have called a countrywide dawn-to-dusk hartal for Monday describing the execution as a ‘planned killing’.

Kamaruzzaman’s family visited him for the last time at the jail earlier today. Following the visit, his eldest son, Hasan Iqbal, spoke to the press. Coming out of the jail after staying with Kamaruzzman for about an hour, he said his father was ‘undaunted’ and in ‘good health’ and smilingly said them goodbye. About the last wishes of the Jamaat leader, Hasan Iqbal said that his father wanted ‘victory of Islamic movement’ in Bangladesh. Asked whether Kamaruzzaman would seek presidential clemency, he said, ‘The president has no power to take anyone’s life or give it to anyone. It is upto the Almighty. No question of seeking clemency to these disbelievers and cheats arises.’ He further stated that two magistrates and the Home Minister are liars, alleging they had no talks with Kamaruzzaman in jail and staged a drama over presidential clemency to gain political benefits.

International bodies critiqued Kamaruzzaman’s trial for judicial flaws and unfairness. In the run up to the execution, several international bodies and figures called for a halt to the proceedings, particularly as the death penalty is an irreversible act. These included Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the United Nations, the European Union, Lord Carlile and Lord Avebury of the British House of Lords, Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales, Commonwealth Lawyers Association and the US government.

The execution took place at 10.30pm local time on April 11 2015, at the gallows stand in Dhaka Central Jail.

One of the medical officers present at the gallows, said the body was kept hanging for 30 minutes. Kamaruzzaman was pinioned and hooded by six hangmen led by Raju. Munir Hossain, imam of the jail mosque, administered Kamaruzzaman his last rites about one hour before the execution. Later on, his body was washed.

Jail officials present at the time said Kamaruzzaman himself had walked onto the gallows straight from his cell. The gallows was covered with black canvas so that only people permitted could watch the hanging. The physician said that Kamaruzzaman was calm and composed and uttered a single sentence ‘pray for me’ when he was escorted onto the gallows.

Additional inspector general of prisons Colonel Md Fazlul Kabir, deputy inspector general of prisons Golam Haider, Dhaka district deputy commissioner Tofazzal Hossain Miah, DMP deputy commissioner (detective branch) Sheikh Nazmul Alam, Rapid Action Battalion intelligence chief Abul Kalam Azad, Dhaka’s civil surgeon Abdul Malek Mridha, senior jail super Forman Ali, four deputy jailers, and executive magistrate Tanvir Ahmed were present during execution.

Following execution, police senior superintendent, Forman Ali, from Dhaka Central Jail issued a statement confirming the execution of Mohammad Kamaruzzaman and his intended burial in Sherpur. Mr Ali stated police are accompanying the body to ensure security.

At 11:40pm, an ambulance carrying Kamaruzzaman’s body and escorted by police and Rapid Action Battalion left the jail and drove to Sherpur for burial. His intended burial is to take place in the courtyard of an orphanage which Kamaruzzaman established there.

Earlier, on April 6, a four-member Appellate Division bench comprising the judges who had originally on November 3, 2014 upheld the May 9, 2013 verdict of ICT-2 awarding him death sentence, rejected Kamaruzzaman’s review petition. On February 19 this year, the ICT-2 issued the warrant for Kamaruzzaman’s execution after receiving the copy of the Appellate Division’s full verdict that had upheld his death sentence handed down by the tribunal on May 9, 2013. The jail authorities suspended the warrant for Kamaruzzaman’s execution after he had filed the review petition on March 5.

On April 6, the Appellate Division dismissed his review petition and the jail superintendent read out the review verdict to Kamaruzzaman.  On April 8, he wanted to consult his lawyers to decide whether he would seek presidential mercy. After meeting lawyers, he told them he would inform jail authorities about his decision after giving a thought to it. All were set to execute Kamaruzzaman on Friday night after the the Home state minister Asaduzzaman Khan announced that Kamaruzzaman had allegedly refused to seek presidential mercy that the two magistrates offered him earlier on the day but was aborted at the last instant.

The execution marks the second conducted under the International Crimes Tribunal. On December 12, 2013 Abdul Quader Mollah, another leader of Jamaat-e-Islami, was executed after the Appellate Division, in an unheard of move, had enhanced his punishment from life term to death sentence on a government appeal against the ICT verdict on September 17, 2013, . Numerous international bodies called for Mollah’s execution to be halted. His party labelled the execution a “political killing”. Although the family were not permitted to attend his funeral or burial, following the execution funerals in absentia were conducted across Bangladesh and abroad.