International Crimes Tribunal-2 will today deliver the verdict in the crimes against humanity case against Jamaat-e-Islami Assistant Secretary General Muhammad Kamaruzzaman, known to have been a key organiser of the Al-Badr force in 1971.
Al-Badr, an auxiliary force of the Pakistani army, planned and executed the killing of Bangalee intellectuals at the fag end of the Liberation War in 1971, according to historical records.
The three-member Tribunal-2, led by Justice Obaidul Hassan with members Justice Md Mozibur Rahman Miah and Judge M Shahinur Islam, yesterday made the announcement of the verdict delivery in open court 22 days after the completion of the case proceedings.
Kamaruzzaman had been indicted on seven charges of crimes against humanity. Wrapping up its closing arguments on April 16, the prosecution sought capital punishment for him.
The prosecution held him responsible for the killing of 183 unarmed people and the rape of many women.
His defence claimed that the prosecution had failed to prove the charges brought against him.
Yesterday was scheduled for recording the testimony of the 19th prosecution witness in the war crimes case against Abdul Alim. But when court went into session at 11:00am, Justice Hassan said, “We won’t take up [Alim's] case today [yesterday]. We have some other work.
“Mr Tipoo [Chief Prosecutor Ghulam Arief Tipoo], we will deliver the verdict in Kamaruzzaman’s case tomorrow [today],” he said, and asked Tipoo and Alim’s counsel Ahsanul Huq Hena to convey the message to Kamaruzzaman as none of his lawyers were present.
Tribunal Registrar AKM Nasiruddin Mahmud yesterday told The Daily Star that as in the instances of the other verdicts delivered, security at the tribunal would be beefed up.
The pronouncement of the verdict would not be hampered by hartal, said Mahmud, adding that as per law, the absence of Kamaruzzaman’s lawyer would not create any problems. The accused would be produced before the court, he added.
On Monday, the BNP-led 18-party alliance announced a hartal for yesterday and today.
Kamaruzzaman was arrested in a criminal case on July 13, 2010, and shown arrested on war crimes charges on August 2 the same year.
The prosecution pressed formal charges against him incorporating nine counts of crimes against humanity on January 15, 2012, and Tribunal-1 took the charges into cognisance on January 31. The case was transferred to Tribunal-2 on April 16, 2012.
In 1971, he was the top leader of Islami Chhatra Sangha, then student wing of the Jamaat, a party that actively opposed the birth of Bangladesh and sided with the Pakistani army, which killed three million Bangalees and raped more than a quarter million women, according to prosecution documents.
On June 4, 2012, the tribunal indicted Kamaruzzaman on seven charges of crimes against humanity, including murder and torture of unarmed civilians and complicity in other crimes during the nine-month-long war.
The indictment order, in a brief profile of the accused, said Kamaruzzaman, as the president of Islami Chhatra Sangha of greater Mymensingh in 1971, had played the role of a key organiser in the formation of the Al-Badr force.
Under the leadership of Kamaruzzaman, all members of Chhatra Sangha of greater Mymensingh were absorbed into Al-Badr within a month. They, after receiving summary training, launched atrocities targeting the Hindus and unarmed Bangalee civilians in greater Mymensingh, the order said.
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 between July 15, 2012 and March 24, 2013.
The prosecution and the defence held closing arguments from March 24 until April 16.
The two tribunals dealing with the war crimes cases have already delivered verdicts in three cases. Jamaat Nayeb-e-Ameer Delawar Hossain Sayedee and expelled Jamaat member Abul Kalam Azad were sentenced to death while Jamaat leader Abdul Quader Mollah received life imprisonment.
The verdict delivery in the war crimes case against former Jamaat chief Ghulam Azam is pending with Tribunal-1.
Abduction and killing of Badiuzzaman; inflicting inhumane torture on pro-liberation intellectual Syed Abdul Hannan; advising the killing of 164 people and rape of many women in Sohagpur; abduction and killing of Golam Mostafa; abduction, confinement and torture of Liakat Ali and Mujibur Rahman Panu and the killing of eight people; abduction and killing of Tunu; and the killing Zahurul Islam Dara and five others.
GONOJAGORON MANCHA RETURNS
People yesterday evening started gathering in Shahbagh, where there used to be the Gonojagoron Mancha that demands maximum punishment for all war criminals.
Early on Monday, police dismantled the mancha. The Gonojagoron Mancha, which was formed immediately after an international crimes tribunal had handed down life imprisonment to Jamaat-e-Islami leader Abdul Quader Mollah on February 5.