The fate of Bangladesh’s Jamaat-e-Islami party, whose top leaders have been sentenced for war crimes, will be decided on Thursday as a court is set to deliver a crucial verdict on its legality as political party.
“The verdict is expected at about 2 p.m. tomorrow as a three-member bench wrapped up the hearing of a writ petition challenging the registration of the right-wing party with the election commission,” a High Court official said.
So far, six top leaders of the Jamaat-e-Islami have been convicted for “crimes against humanity” during the 1971 liberation war since the trial of war crimes suspects began in 2010 three years ago.
Bangladesh Tariqat Federation, a group which preach Sufi philosophy and promotes secularism, and 24 others filed the writ petition in 2009, saying Jamaat-e-Islami is a religion-based political party and it does not believe in independence and sovereignty of Bangladesh.
Attorney-general Mahbubey Alam declined to comment on the issue but lawyers’ familiar with the writ petition said the verdict would determine if the party could take part in the forthcoming parliament elections due in early next year.
The verdict comes amid intensified demands from different left leaning and youth groups to ban the party as it was opposed to the very emergence of Bangladesh while its leaders and activists carried out massive atrocities siding with Pakistani troops in 1971.
A high-powered special tribunal earlier this month called Jamaat a “criminal organisation” as it delivered verdict against the party’s then East Pakistan wing chief Ghulam Azam on charges of war crimes.
Under a revised law, a political party which wanted to contest polls must get registration from the election commission. Tariqat said the commission registered Jamaat on November 14, 2008 in violation of the Constitution and the spirit of the Representation of People Order Ordinance, 2008.