No reprieve for Bangladeshi Islamist leader: to die by hanging

No reprieve for Bangladeshi Islamist leader: to die by hanging

Monday, November 3, 2014 6:31 am

Mohammad Kamaruzzaman: death sentence upheld

Mohammad Kamaruzzaman: death sentence upheld

Bangladesh’s highest court Monday upheld the death sentence against a leader of the largest Islamist party after he was convicted of committing war crimes, including mass murder, during the 1971 independence conflict.

The Supreme Court’s rejection of Mohammad Kamaruzzaman’s appeal means that he will now be hanged within months, provided the case is not reviewed again or he is granted clemency by the country’s president.

An appeals panel headed by Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha read out the concluding part of the judgement, saying the original death sentence handed down by a war crimes tribunal in May last year would stand.

“His death penalty was upheld by a majority decision of the Supreme Court. We are extremely disappointed,” defence lawyer Tajul Islam told AFP, adding that they would appeal for a review.

Chief prosecutor Golam A. Tipu said: “I don’t think there will be any chance for a review”.

The 62-year-old Kamaruzzaman, who is assistant secretary general of the Jamaat-e-Islami, will be the second senior Islamist to hang for crimes committed during the war which saw the former East Pakistan secede from the regime in Islamabad.

Another senior Jamaat official, Abdul Quader Molla, was hanged last December after being convicted on similar charges.

The judgement came after Jamaat’s supreme leader Motiur Rahman Nizami was sentenced to hang by the tribunal last Wednesday while its key financier Mir Quasem Ali was handed the death penalty on Sunday.

Previous verdicts against some of Nizami’s top lieutenants last year plunged the country into one of its worst political crises. Tens of thousands of Jaamat activists clashed with police in protests that left some 500 people dead.

Security was tight in the capital and other cities ahead of the verdict with heavily-armed police and paramilitary border guards patrolling the streets.

Protesting Nizami’s execution order, Jamaat has already called a three-day strike, which is set to conclude on Monday. The protests triggered violence across the country and forced schools, businesses and bus services to shut down.

Kamaruzzaman was found guilty of mass murder, torture and abductions.

His crimes included a mass killing at the northern border town of Sohagpur, which has since become known as the ‘Village of Widows’ after at least 120 unarmed male farmers were lined up and slaughtered in paddy fields.

Three of the widows testified against him during his trial.

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