They have been found guilty of murdering 18 Bengali intellectuals

Two fugitive Jamaat-e-Islami leaders have been awarded the death sentence by a Bangladesh war crimes tribunal for murdering country’s top intellectuals during the Liberation War in 1971.

Pronouncing the verdict on Sunday, chairman of the International Crimes Tribunal-2, Justice Obaidul Hassan, said all 11 charges levelled against Chowdhury Mueen Uddin and Ashrafuzzaman Khan by the prosecution had been “proved beyond doubt”.

The two have been found guilty of torture and murder of nine prominent Dhaka University professors, six eminent journalists and three leading doctors. As per their plan to cripple the nation’s secular intellectual backbone, the Al Badr members, led by the duo, kidnapped and murdered these intellectuals at the fag end of the nine-month-long war, in December 1971.

The special tribunal said the death sentence would be executed after the arrest or the surrender of the convicts.

This is the ninth verdict in the war crimes trial by the two tribunals initiated four decades after the birth of Bangladesh.

Both abroad

Chowdhury Mueen Uddin was allegedly the ‘operation in-charge’ of the infamous Al Badr gang which was formed with direct involvement of the Jamaat-e-Islami that had violently opposed Bangladesh’s independence. He is now in London where he has made his name as a religious leader. Apart from serving as the chairman of Tottenham Mosque, he became director of Muslim spiritual care provision in the National Health Service of the U.K., the prosecution said.

Ashrafuzzaman Khan, the alleged ‘chief executor’ of Al-Badr killer gang, is now in New York and has been involved in the conservative Islami Circle of North America.

In its closing arguments, the prosecution said the duo “deserved” capital punishment for the crimes “they had committed” in 1971 while the defence sought acquittals claiming that the prosecution “failed to prove the charges”.