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War Crimes: Supreme Court upholds Azhar’s death penalty

War Crimes: Supreme Court upholds Azhar's death penalty

A four-member bench of the Appellate Division headed by Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain pronounced the judgment on Thursday.

Other members of the bench are Justice Hasan Foez Siddique, Justice Zinat Ara and Justice Md Nuruzzaman.Attorney General Mahbubey Alam, who is expected to brief the media later in the day, has expressed satisfaction over the judgement, while defence counsel Khandaker Mahbub Hossain said they would file another plea, seeking review of today’s judgement.

The Appellate Division on October 30 set today to pronounce the judgement.

Earlier on July 10, the apex court kept the judgement on CAV, curia advisari vult (a Latin legal term meaning court awaits judgement), as the hearing in the case concluded on that day.

The Appellate Division on June 18 started hearing the appeal filed by the convict.

The first tribunal on December 30, 2014, sentenced Azhar to death forhis crimes against humanity in Rangpur during the War of Liberation. The tribunal found him guilty in five of the total six charges it had framed against him.

“During the War of Liberation of Bangladesh in 1971, Azhar collaborated with Pakistani army to execute their plan and design in committing crimes against humanity and genocide all over Rangpur district. As the commander of Al-Badr Bahini, he resisted the War of Liberation and committed atrocities all over the district through his members of Al-Badr Bahini,” the ICT-1 verdict said.“He is held guilty of the offences of ‘genocide’ and ‘crimes against Humanity’ enumerated in section 3(2)(a)(c)(i)(g) and (h) of the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act, 1973 as listed in charge nos. 02, 03, and 04 and he be convicted accordingly and sentenced to death for each of the said three charges mentioned above and be hanged by the neck till he is dead,” it added.

Azhars was sentenced to 25 years imprisonment for charge number five and was given five years imprisonment for charge number six.

The convicted war criminal filed the appeal against his conviction on January 28, 2015.

Azhar, hailed from village Batason Lohanipara in Badorganj, Rangpur, became president of Islami Chhatra Sangha, Jamaat’s then student wing, Rangpur district unit in 1971. As the broke out, he formed pro-Pakistani death squad Al-Badr Bahini in the district.

As Bangladesh got liberated on December 16, 1971, he like many others of his party went into hiding, only to be surfaced after the brutal killing of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1975.

Azhar joined Jamaat-e-Islami and managed to climb its ranks swiftly from 1982 to 1990. He was the president of Jamaat’s Dhaka city unit from 1991-2002. Azhar became the central assistant secretary general of Jamaat and later was even in charge of general secretary of the extreme right wing party.

He was arrested on August 23, 2012, as the first tribunal issued arrest warrant against him. The prosecution submitted formal charge against him on July 18, 2013. The first tribunal July 25, 2013, took the charges pressed against Azhar into cognizance.

The ICT-1 on November 12, 2013, framed six charges of crimes against humanity against ATM Azharul Islam. During the trial proceedings, the prosecution produced 19 witnesses including the investigation officer, while the defence produced one.