A five-member bench of the Supreme Court on Tuesday awarded, with a 4-1 majority, death penalty to Jamaat-e-Islami assistant secretary-general Abdul Quader Mollah for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the country’s Liberation War in 1971.
Out of six charges against Mollah, five were proved, pronounced the appellate division, headed by Chief Justice M Mozammel Hossain.
Mollah, given life imprisonment by a war crimes tribunal on February 5, got death sentence following appeal by prosecution.
His acquittal plea was dismissed
The “inadequate punishment” to Mollah, known as “butcher of Mirpur”, had triggered an unprecedented uprising in Dhaka’s Shahbagh neighbourhood. Millions of people from different age groups demonstrated to demand highest penalty for all war criminals.
The Supreme Court found Mollah guilty of murder and other war crimes and ordered his execution, converting his life sentence to the maximum punishment possible under nation’s law.
His only option now is to apply for Presidential mercy.
While the main opposition party BNP, led by former premier Khaleda Zia, kept silent on verdict, as it did during other war crimes cases, the ruling Awami League and its political allies have expressed satisfaction.
Hundreds of protesters at Shahbagh rejoiced as the life sentence of the Jamaat leader was overturned, marking a victory for them as they had forced the government to include an option for appeal, absent in the original law.
The long-awaited trial of ‘war criminals’ of 1971 began with the constitution of first war crimes tribunal in 2010. The second tribunal was constituted in 2012. Despite violent protests by Jamaat and its allies, the two tribunals has sentenced six war criminals – four to death sentence and two to jail term.
Mollah’s counsel, Jamaat leader Abdur Razzak, said he would file a review petition after getting the full text of the apex court judgement. The scope for such review, said the prosecution, does not exist in the special law .
Also, a bill was tabled on Monday to bar those convicted under the Collaborators Act and International Crimes Tribunal Act from becoming voters.