Convicting detained Jamaat-e-Islami policymaker Mir Quasem Ai on charges of crimes against humanity, including murder, during the Liberation War, the International Crimes Tribunal-2 on Sunday unanimously sentenced him to death.
With the 62-year-old accused 1971 Chittagong commander of Al Badr, a secret killing squad of Jamaat-e-Islami, in the dock, Justice Obaidul Hassan, chairman of the three-member tribunal, flanked by its two other members -- Justice M Mozibur Rahman Miah and Justice M Shahinur Islam -- pronounced a 351-page verdict at 11:30 am in a crowded courtroom, after six months of closing the trial.
Following the judgment, Jamaat-e-Islami called another hartal for Thursday protesting the death sentence against Mir Quasem Ali.
Earlier, before the judgment, police in compliance with the tribunal order produced the accused in the tribunal lock-up at 9:25 am amid tight security in and around the tribunal at the century-old High Court building. The tribunal sat at 10:50 am.
“Convict Mir Quasem Ali will be hanged by the neck until he is dead,” declared ICT-2 chairman while disclosing the sentences.
Evaluating the documents and evidence of the witnesses from both sides, the tribunal further observed that Quasem Ai was held responsible for actual commission of offence of abduction, confinement and torture to unarmed civilians, terming Hotel Dalim as death factory of infamous Al Badr in which the accused was its commander.
Considering the nature of atrocities, accused Quasem Ali deserves no leniency in awarding punishment, added the tribunal.
“Mir Quasem Ali played a very perfidious role while torturing victim - an unarmed civilian confining at Dalim Hotel to glean information about the freedom fighters and their arms. It demonstrates his cruel and vengeful lust towards the freedom fighters who have liberated this nation risking their lives,” observed the tribunal in its judgment.
The tribunal observation said: “A sense of closure to the darkest chapter in the history of Bangalee nation needs to be brought to end impunity for the barbaric atrocities committed in 1971 for strengthening the rule of law and also to set an example.” It also contended that the offence indubitably falls within the kind of such gravest crimes which trembles the collective conscience of mankind.
The tribunal handed down the capital punishment to Quasem Ali on similar two counts of charges of abetting and facilitating the commission of the offences of murder as crimes against humanity during the Liberation War.
Besides, the tribunal sentenced the war criminal, Chittagong president of Islami Chhatra Sangha (ICS) in 1971, to different jail terms totaling 72 years on eight counts of offences like abduction, confinement and torture to freedom fighters and freedom-loving unarmed civilians, and the sentence will run concurrently.
The tribunal in its judgment kept one single capital punishment for execution and the remaining sentences of rigorous imprisonments will get merged into the death sentence.
It, however, acquitted Quasem Ali, the principal financier of Jamaat-e-Islami, of four counts of charges.
During the trial, the tribunal examined 24 prosecution witnesses (PWs), including ASP Nurul Islam, the investigation officer (IO) of the case, while the defence placed three witnesses (DWs).
With the day’s pronouncement of judgment, the two ICTs have so far delivered 11 verdicts since their formation in March 2010 and 2012 respectively, keeping pending five more judgments to be delivered any day.
Emerging from the tribunal, defence counsel Mizanul Islam, apparently unhappy with the judgment, told reporters that they would go for appeal against the judgment.
Reacting to the judgment, condemned convict war criminal Mir Quasem Ali wearing blue shirt and black trouser with off white blazer, made rude remarks against the judges of the tribunal from the dock, and claimed, “I’ve been falsely implicated in the case with makeover witnesses under a black law.”
Terming ‘made to order’ the judgment, he said, “The falsehood be defeated and the truth would be established.”
On May 26, 2013, the tribunal took cognizance of the charges made against Quasem Ali, also chairman of private television channel Diganta (operation now suspended) as it found a strong prima facie case against the accused under sections 3(2), 4(1) and 4(2) of the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act 1973.
The tribunal on September 5, 2013 indicted Mir Quasem for his involvement in crimes against humanity during the Liberation War. Quasem Ali faced 12 out of 14 counts of charges of crimes against humanity during the war.
The prosecution could not place evidence on two charges due to failure of bringing its witnesses before the tribunal.
According to the prosecution, Quasem Ali, also a 1971 front-ranking leader of Islami Chhatra Sangha (ICS), student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami, had perpetrated various crimes against humanity like killing, looting, abduction, persecution, genocide, rape, extortion, and setting fire to the houses of unarmed civilians during the Liberation War in collaboration with Pakistani occupation army.
The accused being emerged as commander of Al Badr had also set up makeshift torture camps at different places in the port city of Chittagong, including Dalim Hotel, where freedom-loving people were handed down punishment in 1971.
Plainclothes police in compliance with the tribunal’s order arrested the Jamaat stalwart from the office of the vernacular daily Nayadiganta in the capital on June 17 last year. Among others, advocate Sultan Mahmud Simon and Dr Tureen Afroz appeared for the prosecution.
Quasem Ali gets death penalty .Jamaat calls hartal Thu