Jamaat leader’s death sentence upheld

Jamaat-e-Islami party chief Motiur Rahman Nizami.   | Photo Credit: Khurshed Rinku

The Supreme Court of Bangladesh has upheld the death penalty for Jamaat-e-Islami chief Motiur Rahman Nizami for crimes committed during country’s Liberation War in 1971.

A four-member appellate division bench, led by Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha, rejected Nizami’s appeal.

The International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) had, in its 2014 verdict, held Nizami guilty of eight out of the 16 charges against him and awarded him the death penalty. He was, however, acquitted in eight other charges.

Murder of intellectuals

Nizami (now 72), who was the chief of Islami Chhatra Sangha, a student wing of Jamaat, headed the al-Badr militia created by the Pakistan Army to suppress the Bengali rebellion. He also played a key role in the formation and running of the Razakar force.

The al-Badr militia murdered some of the best intellectuals of the Bengali nation-in-the-making, people who formed the lifeblood of secular Bengali nationalism.

Most of them were killed days before the final victory on December 16. Nizami, a former Industry Minister under the Khaleda Zia government, was also given death penalty in 2014 over arms trafficking related to Chittagong’s 10-truck arms haul case.

Wednesday’s verdict is the sixth war crimes verdict given by the apex court after the landmark tribunal was set up in 2010.

Review option

War veterans and families of victims welcomed the verdictProcessions were also taken out in various places to celebrate the verdict. Jamaat-e-Islami called a day-long hartal on Thursday to protest the judgment. The full verdict will now be sent to the war crimes tribunal, which will issue the death warrant. The jail officials will subsequently read out the warrant to Nizami.

As per the law, the defence has a chance to file a review petition within 15 days of the publication of the full verdict. Following that, if the death sentence is upheld, the convict will have the opportunity to file a mercy petition to the President.

Student wing of Jamaat

Nizami joined Jamaat’s student wing when he was young. He swiftly rose through the ranks, operating in the West and East Pakistans, and becoming Islami Chhatra Sangha president in 1966.

He retained the post for the following five years and throughout Bangladesh’s struggle for independence. After the war, Nizami fled with Ghulam Azam to the U.K. In 1978, the then President Gen Ziaur Rahman repatriated them and brought Jamaat back into politics.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2022 3:25:50 PM |

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