War crimes verdict on Mir Quasem Ali Sunday

The verdict for Jamaat-e-Islami leader Mir Quasem Ali, charged with committing war crimes during Bangladesh's Liberation War, will be delivered on Sunday.

Staff Correspondentbdnews24.com
Published : 30 Oct 2014, 05:46 AM
Updated : 30 Oct 2014, 09:21 AM

The International Crimes Tribunal-2, headed by Justice Obaidul Hassan, announced the date on Thursday, Deputy Registrar Arunabha Chakraborty told bdnews24.com.

Mir Quasem is said to have been the third man in vigilante militia Al-Badr’s command structure during the 1971 Liberation War.

He was indicted on Sept 5 last year on 14 charges including murder, abduction and torture. His trial ended on May 4 this year.

Quasem’s verdict date has been announced barely a day after the head of Al Badr and Jamaat chief Motiur Rahman Nizami was sentenced to death by ICT-1 on Wednesday.

Said to be one of Jamaat’s top financiers, Mir Quasem is a director of Islami Bank and chairman of the Diganta Media Corporation, believed to be pro-Jamaat.

He is also the founder of Ibn Sina Trust and director of the non-government organisation - Rabita al-Alam al-Islami.

An executive council member of Jamaat, he was arrested on June 17 last year from the offices of newspaper Naya Diganta less than two hours after the tribunal issued a warrant for his arrest.

The first war crimes tribunal declined to hear his bail petition and sent him to jail just hours after his arrest. His case was shifted to ICT-2 for swift disposal on Sept 3 last year.

“Pakistan’s Ayub Khan, Yahiya Khan, Tikka Khan had broken this country to pieces, that’s when another ‘Bengali Khan’ was born, Prosecutor Tureen Afroz said during a courtroom argument.

“There is evidence of the abuses Mir Quasem Ali committed in 1971. We’ve been able to prove all charges against ‘Bengali Khan’ aka Mir Quasem Ali. We want him to receive the maximum penalty.”

Defence lawyer Tanvir Ahmed Al Amin, on the other hand, said the prosecution had proved nothing and demanded that Quasem be discharged.

'The Al Badr days and after'

Born in Manikganj's Harirampur, he was better known as 'Mintu' to the people of Chittagong during the war.

Mir Quasem was a first-year student of Physics at Chittagong College in 1971. He headed the Chhatra Sangha’s unit as its president.

He was elected a member of the Pakistan Islami Chhatra Sangha’s provincial working council on Nov 6 and became the general secretary of its East Pakistan wing during the Liberation War.

The 14 charges against the Jamaat policymaker include the torture and killing of eight people and concealment of their bodies, besides the torture of 34 others in captivity.

As a once commander of Al Badr, a ‘killing squad’ formed with members of a Peace Committee and Islami Chhatra Sangha to assist Pakistani occupation forces, he is accused of playing a leading role in the murder, massacre, rape and loot that was rampant in Chittagong during that time.

There are also allegations that he ordered the massacre and murder at the Razakar camps there.

The Al Badr in Chittagong, under his leadership, had set up camps for ‘torture and killings’ at Dalim Hotel in Andarkilla, a leather depot at Asadganj, and Salma Manjil at Panchlaish, it is said.

He is also accused of preparing a list of the intellectuals murdered towards the end of the Liberation War.

After independence, Mir Quasem fled to Saudi Arabia and returned to Bangladesh only after Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and most members of his family were killed by a group of army officers on Aug 15, 1975.

He became the founding President of the Islami Chhatra Shibir, a rechristened Chhatra Sangha, on Feb 6, 1977.

Altogether, 24 people testified against Mir Quasem from Dec 11 to Apr 27 this year, while the defence produced three witnesses – Mir Quasem’s younger sister Momtaz Nuruddin and freedom fighters Mohammad Ali and Abu Taher Khan from Chittagong.

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher