Jamaat-e-Islami leader Muhammad Kamaruzzaman has been charged with murder and torture of unarmed civilians and complicity in other crimes against humanity during the Liberation War in 1971.
After framing seven specific charges against him yesterday, the International Crimes Tribunal-2 fixed July 2 for the beginning of the trial.
The charges are based on seven separate incidents of crimes against humanity that left at least 183 unarmed people dead and some women raped.
Born in Sherpur on July 4, 1952, Kamaruzzaman was president of Islami Chhatra Sangha in greater Mymensingh in 1971.
The pro-Jamaat student body was later renamed Islami Chhatra Shibir.
ICS members formed AL Badr to collaborate with the Pakistani military that committed genocide and mass killing during the war, according to historical records.
The war that ended with the birth of a new nation after nine months saw at least three million people killed and over two lakh women raped.
During the charge framing yesterday, Tribunal-2 said Kamaruzzaman had played the key role in the formation of Al Badr with selected students of Ashek Mahmud Collage in Jamalpur. All of them belonged to ICS.
Under his leadership, all members of ICS of greater Mymensingh were recruited in Al Badr, the court said while presenting a brief profile of the accused.
On receiving summary training, they started committing atrocities targeting the Hindu community and unarmed Bangalee civilians in Kishoreganj, Netrokona, Sherpur, Jamalpur and Mymensingh.
“He [Kamaruzzaman] allegedly being in close association with Pakistani army, actively aided, abetted, facilitated and substantially contributed in committing dreadful atrocities during the War of Liberation in 1971 in the territory of Bangladesh," it said.
Now senior assistant secretary general of his party, the Jamaat leader has also been charged with complicity in and failing to prevent such crimes.
Six of the seven charges were for his involvement in crimes, including murder, torture, abduction and confinement.
One charge related to his “inhuman acts” against Syed Abdul Hannan, the then principal of Sherpur College, in 1971.
"During the period of the War of Liberation, on an afternoon in mid-May, you [Kamaruzzaman], being the chief organiser of Al-Badr Bahini as well as leader of Islami Chhatra Sangha or member of a group of individuals, and your accomplices caused inhuman acts to distinguished pro-liberation intellectual Syed Abdul Hannan, the then Principal of Sherpur College, by compelling him to walk through the town, making him almost undressed and by constant whipping, as he was a gallant supporter of the War of Liberation," the court told the accused.
"Therefore, you, Muhammad Kamaruzzaman, are being charged with participating in and substantially facilitating and contributing to the commission of offence of 'inhuman acts as crime against humanity' caused to Syed Abdul Hannan."
Tribunal-2 Chairman Justice ATM Fazle Kabir read out the charges along with an introduction to the formation of the court, a brief history of the Liberation War, a brief profile of Kamaruzzaman and submissions of the prosecution and the defence along with the court's views on the case.
“We are of the view that there are sufficient materials before this tribunal to presume that accused Muhammad Kamaruzzaman has committed offences specified under section 3(2) of the Act for which he is criminally liable under section 4(1) of the Act.”
“Since we find that there are prima facie allegations against the accused, the charges are thus framed against him,” said the three-member Tribunal-2 that includes Justice Obaidul Hassan and Judge M Shahinur Islam.
The 60-year-old Jamaat leader was produced before the tribunal yesterday at 10:26am. He first took a seat in the dock at the back of the courtroom.
Before reading out the charges, the court asked Kamaruzzaman to go to the dock near the judges' bench if he could not hear.
Kamaruzzaman, wearing white shirt, black pant and black shoes, went to the dock and kept standing.
SIX OTHER CHARGES
On June 29, 1971, under the leadership of Kamaruzzaman, a group of Al Badr members abducted Badiuzzaman, son of Md Fazlul Haque, in Ramnagar village under Jhenaigati upazila, Sherpur.
He was tortured at Ahammed Nagar army camp all night long and shot to death the following day. His body was dumped in a water body.
In the early morning of July 25, 1971, Kamaruzzaman advised members of Al-Badr and Razakar [another auxiliary force] to commit a large scale massacre, in association with Pakistani troops, in Sohagpur village of Nalitabari upazila, Sherpur.
The collaborators murdered 164 unarmed civilians, 44 of whom are named, and raped women.
On August 23, 1971, on Kamaruzzaman's instruction, collaborators took Golam Mostafa, son of late Asir Uddin of village Gridda Narayanpur in Sherpur, to an Al-Badr camp.
The Jamaat leader and his accomplices brought Mostafa and one Abul Kasem to Serih Bridge and gunned them down.
Kasem survived as he jumped into the river but suffered injuries in his fingers. Mostafa died on the spot.
In mid-Ramadan in 1971, Kamaruzzaman and his followers picked up Liakat Ali and Mujibur Rahman Janu from their houses and brought them to a Razakar camp at Raghunathpur Bazar where they were tortured. Afterwards, the duo were kept detained for four days at a police station.
On Kamaruzzaman's order, the two along with 11 other civilians were shifted to Jhenaigati Ahammed Nagar camp. Afterwards, eight of them were shot to death. At the time, the accused and his aide Kamran were present.
In November 1971, under the instruction of Kamaruzzaman, some members of Al-Badr abducted Tunu and one Jahangir from Golki Bari and took them to the District Council Dak Banglow in Mymensingh.
Tunu was tortured to death. Jahangir was detained but freed later on.
On Ramadan 27, one Tepa Mia and his elder son Zahurul Islam Dara were abducted by Kamaruzzaman, who was accompanied by 15-20 armed Al-Badr members from Golapjan Road, Mymensingh. They were taken to the Al-Badr camp at District Council Dak Bungalow.
The next morning, along with five others, the father and son were lined up on the bank of river Brahmaputra.
Tepa Mia, when he was about to be charged with a bayonet, jumped into the river.
As the collaborators fired at him, he received injuries in the leg but managed to escape. But the remaining six got killed.
Yesterday, after the charges were read out, the tribunal chairman asked Kamaruzzaman whether he pleaded guilty or not.
Kamaruzzaman pleaded not guilty, saying, "The charges brought against me are totally false, baseless, politically motivated and imaginary.”
“I am totally innocent,” he claimed.
If convicted, he could get the death penalty under Section 20(2) of the International Crimes (Tribunal) Act, 1973. The act allows a convict to appeal to the Supreme Court Appellate Division.
Detained on July 13, 2010 in a criminal case, Kamaruzzaman was shown arrested on war crimes charges on August 2 the same year.
The International Crimes Tribunal-1 took the charges against Kamaruzzaman into cognisance on January 31 after the prosecution submitted formal charges of nine counts of crimes against humanity on January 15.
The case was transferred to tribunal-2 on April 16.
The court yesterday said the trial of Kamaruzzaman, starting with the opening statement of the prosecution on July 2, will continue every working day until further orders.