Top court upholds Jamaat tycoon’s death sentence

He was convicted of running a militia torture cell, Al Badr, that carried out killings of several people.

August 30, 2016 10:41 am | Updated October 18, 2016 03:10 pm IST - Dhaka

Mir Quasem Ali

Mir Quasem Ali

The Bangladesh Supreme Court has rejected a review appeal filed by Jamaat-e-Islami business tycoon Mir Quasem Ali, who’s facing death for “crimes against humanity” committed during the country’s Liberation War in 1971.

After the apex court’s verdict on Tuesday, the founding president of Jamaat’s students wing Islami Chatra Sangha, which later renamed itself as Islami Chatra Shibir, has exhausted all legal options to stop his execution. Ali is considered the key-financier of Jamaat, which had violently opposed Bangladesh’s independence from Pakistan.

A five-member Appellate Division bench, headed by Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha, delivered the verdict on Tuesday.

The pro-Pakistani Al-Badr militia commander, now aged 64, can now only seek presidential mercy. If he does not seek presidential pardon, or the president rejects it, the prison authorities can execute him anytime, according to the law.

Ali was convicted of running a torture cell of Al Badr, which carried out killings in the port city of Chittagong in 1971.

He’s currently an executive committee member of Jamaat and owns several business houses and media outlets, including the now suspended Diganta TV channel.

Khandaker Mahbub Hossain, the chief counsel of Ali, and also a top advisor of Bangladesh Nationalist Party chairperson Khaleda Zia, said Ali’s family would make the decision on whether to seek president's mercy.

Ali is the fifth top Jamaat leader whose death sentence for war crimes has been upheld in the final verdict.

On November 2, 2014, the International Crimes Tribunal-2 handed capital punishment to Ali. The Appellate Division upheld the verdict on March 8 this year. On June 19, he submitted his petition seeking a review of death.

$25 million deal

The prosecution said the tycoon made a $25 million deal with U.S. lobby firm Cassidy and Associates for engaging with the governments of the U.S. and Bangladesh to protect “his interest”. The state submitted to the court a receipt issued by the U.S. lobby firm for what it said “professional service”.

In March 2014, another deal worth of $50,000 was struck with the same lobby firm on Ali’s behalf for “condemning” the actions of the International Crimes Tribunal—Bangladesh, according to authorities.

The Bangladesh government is happy with the verdict. Law Minister Anisul Huq said Ali will be executed after completing necessary formalities.

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