Dhaka: Bangladesh’s Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the death sentence it handed down to chief of fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami Motiur Rahman Nizami over crimes against humanity during the 1971 Liberation War with Pakistan.
The four-member Appellate Division bench headed by Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha pronounced the single-word judgment. Rejected,” said the top judge about the final appeal of 72-year-old Nizami, who was convicted of murder, rape and orchestrating the killing of top intellectuals.
Today’s final verdict comes two days after the bench wrapped up hearing Nizami’s petition, seeking a review of the top court’s own previous judgment that had confirmed his death sentence.
The Supreme Court’s decision clears the final legal hurdle for the government to hang the Jamaat-e-Islami chief, who is now left with the only option to seek presidential mercy. President Abdul Hamid, however, has earlier rejected two such prayers by 1971 war crimes convicts, including Nizami’s top aide then, who were subsequently executed late last year.
Nizami was originally convicted of murder, rape and orchestrating the killing of top intellectuals as a militia leader during Bangladesh’s 1971 war of independence against Pakistan. The Supreme Court upheld the verdict in January this year, but Nizami’s lawyers filed a final appeal. Previous convictions of Jamaat officials triggered the country’s deadliest violence in decades, with around 500 people killed, mainly in clashes between Islamists and police.
Nizami, Jamaat’s leader since 2000 and a former government minister, could still avoid the gallows if he is granted clemency by the president. Three senior Jamaat officials and a key leader of the main opposition party have been executed for war crimes since December 2013. Since it was established by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government in 2010, the International Crimes Tribunal has sentenced more than a dozen opposition leaders for war crimes. Rights groups say the trials fall short of global standards and lack international oversight.
President Abdul Hamid, however, has earlier rejected two such prayers by 1971 war crimes convicts, including Nizami’s top aide then, who were subsequently executed late last year.
ICT-BD originally sentenced Nizami to death on October 29, 2014 and after an appeal hearing, the apex court in its January judgment found the punishment appropriate for him. The prison authorities served Nizami the death warrant on March 16 as the apex court’s decision reached them in writing through the ICT-BD following which the Jamaat chief preferred to seek review of the Supreme Court judgment. Nizami was a minister in the past BNP-led four-party alliance government with Jamaat as its crucial ally.