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SC commutes Sayedee’s death sentence, awards jail unto death

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Court Correspondent
Commuting his death sentence handed down by the International Crimes Tribunal-1, the Supreme Court on Wednesday jailed 74-year-old Jamaat-e-Islami nayeb-e-ameer Delwar Hossein Sayedee unto death for his crimes against humanity during the Liberation War in 1971.
Chief Justice Md Muzammel Hossain, flanked by four other members of the Appellate Division bench of the Supreme Court, pronounced the final judgment in the crowded courtroom at 10.06 am amid tight security in and around the apex court.
The other members of the bench are Justices Surendra Kumar Sinha, Md A Wahhab Miah, Hasan Foez Siddique and AHM Shsmsuddin Choudhury.
The Bench sat at10:05 am, 65 minutes behind its schedule.
Sayedee sought acquittal while the Chief Prosecutor prayed for his capital punishment in other six charges where he was found guilty by the trial court.
At the outset of pronouncing the orders, the Chief Justice announced that both the appeals filed by Sayedee and the Chief Prosecutor are allowed in part by a majority decision, upholding the trial court sentences on five charges with modifications and acquitting Sayedee of three.
According to the alteration of punishments, the SC jailed Sayedee unto death commuting the capital punishment on charge of killing Bisa Bali and burning 24 houses of Hindus at village Umedpur and sentenced him to 12 years’ rigorous imprisonment modifying the death penalty on charge of killing Ibrahim Kutty and setting fire to the houses of Hindus.
The SC also jailed Sayedee unto death on two other charges -- abduction of three Hindu women, confinement and rape and conversion of Hindus to Muslims by using force.
Sayedee was further jailed for 10 years’ rigorous imprisonment on charge of torture on freedom fighter Shahidul Islam Selim and looting goods and torching his house at village Baruria.
The top court, however, acquitted the war criminal Jamaat leader of the three charges-looting of 22 shers (27.5 kg) of gold and silver from a shop owned by Makhanlal Saha in Parerhat, attack on the house of freedom fighter Mahbubul Alam Hawlader and looting valuables and attack on Hindupara Hoglabunia, rape of Shefali Gharami and setting fire to houses.
The SC delivered its verdict after keeping its order pending for long 153 days. It had heard the arguments from both sides exhausting 49 working days that began on September 24 last year.
On February 28, 2013, the three-member International Crimes Tribunal-1 had condemned Sayedee to death for his crimes against humanity during the Liberation War, acquitting him of a dozen of the charges.
The tribunal identified Sayedee as Razakar and also a member of local Peace Committee (collaborator) and found him guilty of murder, abduction, torture, rape, persecution, looting, forcible religious conversion and setting homes ablaze in rural areas of the southern district of Pirojpur during the war.
Out of 20 counts of charges brought against Sayedee on October 3, 2011, the prosecution proved eight charges beyond any reasonable doubt.
A total of 28 prosecution witnesses testified against Sayedee while 17 defence witnesses for him.
On December 7, 2011, the formal trial began with Sayedee in the dock recording the depositions of the prosecution witnesses through newly- introduced IT system.
Following a Dhaka court order, Sayedee was arrested along with Jamaat leaders Matiur Rahman Nizami and Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid on June 30, 2010, in connection with hurting the religious sentiment of the Muslims. Later, they were shown arrested in the war crimes cases.