The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court will deliver the verdict on the review petition of Muhammad Kamaruzzaman, Assistant Secretary General of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami. After completing the hearing of both the parties yesterday, the four members Appellate Bench led by Chief Justice SK Sinha has declared the date for the verdict. Review petition is the final stage of this case, so this judgment would be the ultimate decision.
On behalf of Muhammad Kamaruzzaman, Vice Chairman of Bangladesh Bar Council and President of the Supreme Court Bar Association Advocate Khandakar Mahbub Hossain has argued before the Court. Attorney General Mahbubey Alam represented the state.
Kamaruzzaman was sentenced to death on 9th May, 2013 by the International Crimes Tribunal II. The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court upheld the verdict on 3rd November, 2014. As per the rules, the Defence team filed a review petition before the Appellate Division on 5th March, 2015. It was filed before the four member Appellate Bench of the Supreme Court including justice M A Wahab Mia, justice Hasan Foyez Siddiqi and justice AHM Shamsuddin Chowdhury.
Review Hearing: Kamaruzzaman was given death sentence by the Tribunal on two charges. The third charge was the Shohaghpur massacre and the fourth charge was murder of a person named Golam Mostofa. Appellate Division upheld the death penalty on the third charge based on majority decision, and the death penalty on the fourth charge was commuted to Life imprisonment.
In his argument, Advocate Khandakar Mahbub said, the death sentence on charge three was given upon the statements of three witnesses. They are witness numbers 11, 12 and 13. Among them, the witness number 11 Hasna Begum had given hearsay testimony. She stated that she heard from the elders about the involvement of Kamaruzzaman in the Shohaghpur massacre. Witness number 12 Hafiza Beowa claimed herself as a direct witness, and her husband was killed. But in the cross examination, she admitted that she didn’t knew Kamaruzzaman before the war of liberation; she first saw him on TV after a few months of the war.
Witness number 13 was Karfuli Beowa. She also testified that Kamaruzzaman was involved in the killing of her husband. But in cross examination, she admitted, she saw Kamaruzzaman for the first time on the porch of their house after the liberation war. Before that, she wouldn’t even know her.
Advocate Mahbub said, if the witnesses didn’t know Kamaruzzaman, how did they identify him on the spot during the massacre?
Advocate Shishir Manir, Lawyer for Kamaruzzaman stated that, two books on the Shohaghpur Massacre were submitted before the court, none of them had the name of Kamaruzzaman in them, although the books have the interviews of the prosecution witnesses number 12 and 13. The interviews were taken by a journalist named Mamunur Rashid. They didn’t say anything about Kamaruzzaman. However, the books were published in 2011 and 2012 respectively, so the Appellate Division ruled them out and labeled them as propaganda publications. Shishir Manir further stated, another book was submitted from the Defence team during the review petition, which was published in 1971, and the latest edition was reprinted in 2008. The book was titled ‘Mahila Muktijoddha’ (female freedom fighters) and written by Farida Akhtar. Advocate Khandakar Mahbub quoted some lines from the books in his argument. He said, the book has an interview of the 13th witness Karfuli Beowa, which was taken in 1996. She stated, Pakistani army was involved in the killing of her husband. On this perspective, Khandakar Mahbub urged before the Court to review the judgment. He said, the death sentence given in charge 3 can be commuted in the same manner that was done for charge 4.
Attorney General Mahbubey Alam stated before the Court that, Kamaruzzaman was a superior because of his status as Al Badr commander, and the Pakistani Army obeyed his orders. He further stated, Kamaruzzaman’s name as the mastermind of killings and other offences at Sherpur in 1971 came up in various books and news reports.
Khandakar Mahbub was assisted by advocate Shishir Mohammad Manir. Kamaruzzaman was arrested on 29th July of 2010 for hurting the religious feelings, and was shown arrest on the charges of Crimes against humanity on 2nd August, 2010.
Source: Naya Diganta