Dhaka – The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the death sentence for a senior leader of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh over war crimes, officials said.
A four-member panel of judges headed by Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain pronounced the verdict against ATM Azharul Islam, a former assistant general secretary of the party, rejecting an appeal filed by the defendant.
Azharul Islam was sentenced to death by special war crimes tribunal in December 2014 for mass killing, rape, abduction and carrying out torture on unarmed civilians and other forms of crimes against humanity during the nine-month war of liberation with Pakistan in 1971.
The 67 year old Jamaat leader will now file a petition seeking review of the Supreme Court decision within 15 days of publication of the full verdict, his lawyer Khandaker Mahbub Hossain said. Hossain said his client was innocent.
Attorney General Mahbubey Alam said he was happy with the Supreme Court verdict.
Azharul was found guilty of gunning down 15 unarmed civilians in Dhap Para area in Rangpur on Apr 16, 1971, massacre at Jharuarbeel where more than 1,200 unarmed civilians were killed by the local agents of the Pakistani forces on Apr 17, in 1971, and abduction and murder of four teachers of Carmichael College and others on Apr 30, 1971.
He was also convicted for raping women after confining them at Rangpur Town Hall between Mar 25 and Dec 16.
Most of the top leaders of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, which opposed creation of Bangladesh and collaborated Pakistani forces, were earlier executed for similar convictions in a series of trial.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina set up the tribunal in 2010 to prosecute the local collaborators of the Pakistani forces – both blamed for the death of around 3 million people and rape of about 200,000 women during the conflict.
An earlier initiative to prosecute war crimes was called off after the assassination of Bangladesh’s founding president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, father of Hasina, in 1975.
The special court styled International Crimes Tribunal sentenced 100 people in 40 other cases of war crimes since it came into operation in 2010.
The court sentenced 69 persons to death while the other gets imprisonment for their role during the war.