A Bangladesh war crimes tribunal on Thursday handed down the death penalty to another Jamaat-e-Islami leader for offences committed during the Liberation War in 1971.
The International Crimes Tribunal-2 (ICT-2) held Muhammad Kamaruzzaman, assistant secretary-general of Jamaat, guilty on five counts of mass killings, rape, torture and kidnapping. The verdict was delivered by a three-member tribunal headed by Justice Obaidul Hassan.
A former head of Jamaat’s diplomatic relations and liaison team, Kamaruzzaman, then 19, was the ‘chief organiser’ of the al-Badr — a militant outfit formed to assist the Pakistan army thwart Bangladesh’s independence from Pakistan in 1971 — in the greater Mymensingh region.
Handing out the verdict, Justice Obaidul Hassan said, “Seeing how he has committed these crimes, it will not be fair if he is not penalised with capital punishment.”
The Jamaat leader was given life in prison for killing a civilian and the murder of five.
Ten years of imprisonment has been given out for torturing a lecturer, Syed Abdul Hannan. The ruling observed that it was the Jamaat-e-Islami that formed al-Badr, al-Shams and several other armed organisations to commit crimes against humanity across the country in 1971.
The defence said they would appeal against the judgement at the Supreme Court. Happy with the verdict, Attorney-General Mahbubey Alam said, “The nation got justice through the judgement.”
The tribunal read out the 62-page summary of the 215-page judgement in a jam-packed court room on a day when the 18-party alliance under stewardship of Jamaat and Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) was enforcing a daylong nationwide hartal to force the Sheikh Hasina government to step down.
The indictment ordersaid that after receiving summary training, al-Badr launched atrocities targeting the Hindus and unarmed Bengali civilians in greater Mymensingh.
As many as 18 prosecution witnesses, including the investigation officer of the case, testified against the accused, while five people, including Kamaruzzaman’s son and brother, testified in favour of the accused.
This is the fourth case in which judgment has been delivered by the two tribunals dealing with war crimes cases. Earlier, Jamaat leader Delwar Hossain Sayedee and expelled Jamaat member Abul Kalam Azad were sentenced to death while Jamaat leader Abdul Quader Mollah received life imprisonment. The verdict in the case against former Jamaat chief Ghulam Azam is pending with Tribunal-1.
Jamaat has reacted violently against the verdicts and clashed with police and paramilitary forces in recent weeks, to try forcing the Sheikh Hasina government abandon the war crimes trial. But despite uninterrupted violence, which made the national politics already volatile, the government has expressed its firmness to continue the trial process.