Bangladesh Apex Court to Decide War Criminal's Fate in Jan 2016

Anisur Rahman/Dhaka
Bangladesh Apex Court to Decide War Criminal's Fate in Jan 2016

Bangladesh's Supreme Court today said it will pronounce its final verdict next month on the last remaining 1971 war crimes convict Motiur Rahman Nizami, chief of the fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami who is on death row.

"The judgement will be pronounced on January 6," attorney general Mahbubey Alam quoted chief justice Surendra Kumar Sinha as saying wrapping up hearing on Nizami's plea to review his death penalty, originally handed down by a special tribunal and subsequently upheld by the apex court itself.

Alam in his concluding remarks sought the court to maintain its earlier verdict against 73-year-old Nizami for committing crimes against humanity and siding with invading Pakistani troops during the liberation war, when he led the much castigated Al-Badr militia force.

But the attorney general said "Nizami must be sentenced to death for his war crimes against humanity otherwise the people will be frustrated".

Nizami is the last remaining top perpetrators of crimes against humanity whose fate now hangs in the balance as Bangladesh's International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) in October, 2014 sentenced him to death, a verdict which the Supreme Court subsequently upheld.

Nizami then sought to get the apex court verdict reviewed by itself in his last ditch effort to evade the gallows.

"It would be a failure of justice, unless he is handed down the death penalty," the ICT commented as it handed down Nizami the capital punishment last year convicting him of "superior responsibility" as the chief of Al-Badr which is blamed for a systematic campaign to massacre a large number of top intellectuals just ahead of Bangladesh's war victory.

Jamaat's secretary general Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujaheed, who was also Nizami's top aide in 1971, was executed two weeks ago along with Salauddin Quader Chowdhury, a stalwart of the key opposition BNP which is a crucial ally of the fundamentalist party.

Bangladesh so far executed four war crimes convicts since the belated process to expose to trial the top Bengali perpetrators of 1971 atrocities in line with the electoral commitment of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in 2008.

Bangladesh says three million people were killed during the nine-month liberation war against Pakistan in 1971.

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