Jamaat-e-Islami leader ATM Azharul Islam was awarded death penalty on three charges of genocide, mass killing and crimes against humanity during the country’s Liberation War in 1971.
Azharul, the assistant secretary general of Jamaat, was president of Rangpur district unit Islami Chhatra Sangha in 1971.
- 5 out of 6 charges proved
- Death penalty on charges of genocide, mass killing and crimes against humanity
- 25 years imprisonment for rape
- 5 years imprisonment for torture
While reading out the summary of the 158-page verdict, Chairman of International Crimes Tribunal-1 Justice M Enayetur Rahim said Azharul never repented for his wartime offences. After considering all the charges brought against him, the tribunal thought that capital punishment is appropriate for Azharul, the chairman said.
Soon after the verdict was read, the 62-year-old accused stood up on the dock and shouted “it’s a dictated (formayeshi) verdict, dictated verdict”. “You all will be brought to justice,” Azharul said indicating the ICT-1 panel members.
As the Jamaat-leader was produced before the court after 11:15am, Justice Anwarul Haque and Justice Jahangir Hossain read the summary verdict. After them, the ICT chairman read out the conviction.
The tribunal awarded capital punishment to Azharul for Mokshedpur Dhap Para massacre on April 16, killing of around 1,400 unarmed civilians at Jharuarbeel in Rangpur on April 17 and abduction and murder of four Hindu teachers of Carmichael College and others on April 30 in 1971.
He was sentenced to 25 years’ rigorous imprisonment for raping women at Rangour Town Hall between March 25 and December 16 while five years for torturing two persons — Shawkat Hossain and Rafiqul Hasan — from November to December 1.
He, however, was acquitted of the charges of abduction, confinement, torture and murder of Durgadas Adhikari and seven other civilians.
The prosecution was satisfied with the verdict and said that the punishment served the expectation of the victims’ families and the countrymen, spokesperson Zead Al Malum said.
“We will see about the charge he was acquitted in after the full verdict is published. Other than that, we are satisfied with the verdict.”
He said that through the verdict of this Jamaat leader, the state made a stride into stopping the culture of impunity that has been prevailing in the country.
As part of the security measures before the verdict, additional law enforcers including police and Rapid Action Battalion were deployed on the court premises. Transport movement remained halted from Doel Chattar to High Court Mazar area since morning for maintaining law and order in the court area.
Son of late Nazir Hossain and Ramicha Khatun of Batasan Lohanipara in Badarganj upazila, Azharul was a student of Rangpur Carmichael College during the 1971 Liberation War. Following the formation of Al-Badr, a heinous auxiliary force to the Pakistan army, he allegedly became the commander of its Rangpur unit.
The police arrested Azharul at his Moghbazar house in the capital on August 22, 2012 after the tribunal had issued an arrest warrant for him in connection with his alleged wartime offences.
The tribunal indicted Azharul on November 12 last year and the prosecution produced its first witness on December 26 the same year.
As many as 19 prosecution witnesses gave their testimonies until July 6 this year, while the defence brought in just one witness.
Both the prosecution and the defence placed their arguments between August 18 and September 18 before the tribunal kept the case waiting for verdict.
The accused was brought to Dhaka Central Jail from Kashimpur Jail last evening.