SC dismisses Mujahid, SQ Chowdhury review petitions; death sentences upheld

ali ahsan mujahid

The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed  two petitions filed by Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid and Salauddin Quader Chowdhury seeking review of its verdicts upholding their death sentences, thereby clearing the way for the government to execute the two senior opposition politicians convicted of crimes against humanity during the country’s independence war in 1971.

Both Salauddin Quader Chowdhury and Ali Hasan Mohammed Mujahid had requested the court to overturn its earlier decisions upholding the death penalty originally imposed by the International Crimes Tribunal.

The tribunal established in 2010 has so far convicted 24 people of crimes against humanity and genocide during the nine-month war with Pakistan in 1971 that resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands of people. Bangladesh’s government says as many as three million were killed.

Most of those convicted by the tribunal, a domestic court, are leaders of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami. In reponse to the verdict Jamaat called for protests on Thursday against the court verdict, as reported in various national media.

Two of its leaders have so far received the death penalty before Mujahid.

Chowdhury was the first leader of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party to receive the death penalty following a conviction for international crimes.

The four member-bench headed by the Chief Justice SK Sinha passed the orders around 11:32am saying ‘the review petitions are dismissed’, and paving the way for their executions for war crimes. After dismissing the review petitions, the Chief Justice told attorney general Mahbubey Alam that the court would send a brief order to the jail authorities over the decision. In the morning, the court started hearing the review petition of Bangladesh Nationalist Party standing committee member Salauddin Quader Chowdhury and decided to pass its order at 11:30am.

Earlier on Tuesday, the same bench posted today for passing its order over the review petition filed by Jamaat’s secretary general Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed against his death sentence. In a press briefing, the attorney general said the jail authorities will now ask Salauddin and Mujahid if they will seek presidential mercy. If they wish, their applications would be referred to the president, he said, adding that there is no specific timeframe for seeking clemency.

In case of their denial to seek the presidential mercy, there will no bar for their executions, Mahbubey Alam said. Khandker Mahbub Hossain, however, said the government now can voluntarily pardon them or they can seek presidential mercy as per the constitution. It depends upon them whether they will seek mercy or not, he said.

Ali Ahmed Mabrur, son of Ali Ahsan Mujahid, said his family was disappointed that his father had been deprived of justice. He thanked the countrymen for being beside his family in their quest for justice and truth and asked them to stay on that path. He said that he expected that true justice would be served on the Day of Judgment.

The International Crimes Tribunal-1 on October 1 issued the warrants for the execution of death penalties of Mujahid and Salauddin. On June 16, the apex court pronounced a brief verdict upholding Mujahid’s death sentence. The then International Crimes Tribunal-2 on July 17, 2013, had sentenced Mojaheed to death finding him guilty of five war crimes charges including his complicity in killing intellectuals towards the fag end of the Liberation War.

Earlier on July 29, the Appellate Division had upheld the death sentence of Salauddin Quader Chowdhury awarded by the International Crimes Tribunal-1 on October 1, 2013. During the hearing in Salauddin’s petition on Wednesday, his lawyer Khandker Mahbub Hossain submitted to the court for the first time Salauddin’s educational certificate issued by the registrar of the Punjab University on March 22, 2012. According to the certificate, Salauddin obtained second class in Bachelor of Arts examinations held in August 1971.

The court ‘observed’ that the certificate was forged as the font of the last two digits of ‘1971’ was smaller than the font of the first two digits. In this regard, it mentionable that the court did not heed the appeal of several prominent Pakistani citizens, whose evidence could have exonerated Salahuddin from the charges against him. The Pakistani citizens include Mohammed Mian Soomro, who in 2007 held the position of prime minister, Ishaq Khan Khakwani, a former national assembly and cabinet minister, and Amber Haroon Saigol, who is the chairperson of Dawn media group. The other two are businessmen.

They all claim that Salauddin Quader Chowdhury, a leader of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, was living in Karachi in April 1971 when the four offences, for which he was sentenced to death, took place.

Adapted from Source: New Age