Bangladeshi apex court upholds death penalty for Islamic party leader

by Naim-Ul-Karim
Bangladesh’s highest court on Thursday rejected the appeal from a leader of the country’s largest Islamic party who was sentenced to death for committing crimes against humanity during the Liberation War in 1971, rreports Xinhua.
   A four-member bench of the Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain delivered the verdict, upholding the death penalty against the 67-year-old ATM Azharul Islam.
   According to the rules, the defence will now have an opportunity to file a review petition against the verdict within 15 days.
   He was indicted with various charges of crimes against humanity, including  mass killings during the 1971 war.
   The indictment order said Azhar was one of the key organizers of the Al-Badr, an auxiliary force.
   Khandaker Mahbub Hossain, the principal defense lawyer of Azhar, told journalists that his client will move a petition before the appellate division seeking review of the verdict.
   On Dec. 30, 2014, Bangladesh’s International Crimes Tribunal (ICT-) sentenced Azhar, assistant secretary general of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami party, with death penalty.
   Azhar, arrested from his home in 2012 on the war crimes charges, later filed the appeal with the Supreme Court challenging the verdict where he claimed innocence and prayed to the Appellate Division to acquit him of the charges.
   If the appeals verdict remains unchanged after the review, he will have the only option to seek the presidential mercy.
   Seven war criminals have been hanged so far after the Supreme Court upheld the tribunal’s judgments.
   Five opposition Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami party leaders, Mir Quasem Ali, Motiur Rahman Nizami, Abdul Quader Molla, Muhammad Kamaruzzaman and Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid, have already been executed for the 1971 war crimes.
   Apart from them, Salaudin Quader Chowdhury, leader of ex-Prime Minister Khaleda Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), was also executed for war crimes.
   After returning to power in January 2009, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, daughter of Bangladesh’s independence hero Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, established the first tribunal in March 2010, almost 40 years after the 1971 war.
   Muslim-majority Bangladesh was called East Pakistan until 1971.
   The government of Hasina said about 3 million people were killed in the war.   Enditem