Jamaat leader loses final appeal against execution

Dhaka: A top leader of fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami party in Bangladesh today lost his final bid to overturn his death sentence for atrocities committed during the 1971 independence war, clearing the way for his execution.

The Supreme Court upheld its previous verdict on Muhammad Quamaruzzaman, rejecting his plea for reviewing death penalty.

“Rejected”, pronounced chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha, a day after the four-member apex court heard the review petition of Jamaat’s 63-year-old assistant secretary general.

After the verdict, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam said that there is no legal bar for the government to execute Quamaruzzaman for his crimes against humanity following the judgement.

He said Quamaruzzaman now could seek presidential clemency within a “logical timeframe”.

Alam earlier said the ‘Jail Code’ which gives an ordinary death row convict a minimum 21 days for preparedness to walk to gallows were not applicable for condemned war criminals as they are tried under a special law beyond the purview of laws like the Criminal Procedure Code.

Bangladesh’s International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) in May 2013 sentenced Quamaruzzaman to death for committing crimes against humanity siding with the Pakistani troops during the 1971 liberation war.

Quamaruzzaman was found him guilty of mass killing, murder, abduction, torture, rape, persecution and abetment of torture in central Mymensingh region.

He was convicted of killing 164 people at a village in his home district in northern Sherpur.

The Supreme Court on November 3 last year upheld his death penalty. The apex court, however, issued the full text of the judgement on February 18 and sent it to the ICT, which immediately issued a death warrant.

But Quamaruzzaman on March 5 filed a review petition, exhausting his last option.

About three million people were killed by the Pakistani army and their Bengali-speaking collaborators during the liberation.

Bangladesh is trying alleged war criminals in the country’s International Crimes Tribunal under a special law.

In December 2013, Bangladesh executed Jamaat leader Abdul Quader Molla for war crimes.

The upholding of Quamaruzzaman’s execution order could escalate the ongoing unrest in the country, which has been hit by deadly protests over the opposition’s bid to topple the government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Opposition parties say the war crimes trials are politically-motivated.