First death sentence in ICT

In a historic verdict, the second war crimes tribunal has sentenced former Jamaat-e-Islami activist Abul Kalam Azad alias Bachchu Razakar to death for committing crimes against humanity during the 1971 Liberation War.

Published : 21 Jan 2013, 01:10 AM
Updated : 21 Jan 2013, 02:49 AM

ICT-2, headed by Justice Obaidul Hasan, delivered the 112-page verdict on Monday. This is the first verdict on war crimes charges by the tribunals set up to try them.

The court ordered Azad death by hanging as seven out of eight charges have been proven against him.

The first verdict on the war crimes might signal the beginning of a process that might see more such verdicts for crimes during the 1971 war that led to Bangladesh's independence.

Tribunal appointed defence Abdus Shukur Khan said the court will not consider a plea for a fresh trial as the accused had been absconding since the beginning of the trial.

According to law, one can appeal against a verdict within a month. But Azad will not get the chance if he does not surrender or is arrested.

“The historic verdict has fulfilled the nation’s aspirations," tribunal Prosecutor Saidur Rahman told journalists after the verdict.

Tight security was put in place ahead of the verdict. The court had to move to ICT-1 as the second war crimes tribunal could not accommodate everyone.

The ICT-2 chief read out the verdict in a tightly packed courtroom after requesting everyone to cooperate in presence of other judges of the tribunal.

Trying the war criminals was an election-time commitment of the ruling Awami League. The government set up the first tribunal on Mar 25, 2009 and the second tribunal was set up three years later to expedite the trials.

The tribunals have been dealing with nine such cases since then. Two more cases are close to verdicts.

The prosecution on Sept 2 had submitted formal charges linking Azad to crimes against humanity including genocide, murder, rape, arson, loot, abduction, deportation and persecution.

The ICT-2 on Sept 9 accepted charges and ordered his arrest and production by Sept 23.

An arrest warrant for Bachchu Razakar was issued in April. Police failed to find him during raids on his office and residence, as he is believed to have fled to Pakistan via Nepal.

The tribunal on Oct 7 decided to continue Azad's trial in absentia as he did not turn up despite public notices for his appearance.

The tribunal on Nov 4 framed charges against him and ordered trial.

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher