Dhaka- The Supreme Court has rejected a plea by war crimes convict Mir Quasem Ali that review of his death penalty should be heard at a later date, court officials said on Wednesday.
The court, however, adjourned the hearing until Sunday, the next weekday.
Quasem Ali, 64, one of Bangladesh’s business tycoons and financier of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami party, was handed down with death penalty by a special war crimes tribunal on November 3, 2014 for crimes committed during the country’s 1971 war of liberation from Pakistan.
He was one of the leaders of the then Islami Chhatra Sangho, the student wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami, and aided the Pakistan military to carry out atrocities on unarmed civilians.
An appeal court upheld his death penalty and then he filed a review of the judgment.
A five-member panel of judges headed by Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha began hearing the review petition and adjourned the hearing till August 28 as the first day hearing was completed.
The bench also rejected the time petition filed by the former commander of al-Badr, a militia group that aided the Pakistan army during the nine-month war.
Earlier, the apex court deferred until August 24 the hearing on a petition and set the date for review hearing.
Earlier, advocate Khandaker Mahbub Uddin Ahmed moved the court on behalf of the Quasem and prayed two-month deferent due to the “current prevailing situation”.
The apex court passed the order deferring the hearing for a month following the senior lawyer’s plea on hearing of the review petition.
Defense counsels filed another time petition with the Appellate Division for the deferment of the review hearing for a period of three weeks on Tuesday.
Mahbub Hossain, also chief defense counsel, told reporters that their preparation got hindered as Mir Ahmed Bin Quasem, his client’s son, went missing some days ago.
The senior lawyer claimed that all the case documents were kept with Mir Ahmed, also a defence lawyer.
Once the review petition is settled by the SC, then the only option will remain for war crimes convict to seek presidential mercy before execution.
Quasem Ali joined Islami Chhatra Sangha in 1967 while he was studying at Chittagong Collegiate School.
He later became its Chittagong city unit general secretary and played a key role in forming al-Badr Force that established makeshift torture camps at different places in the port city to bring in civilians and carry out atrocities.
The special war crimes tribunal set up by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in 2010 to prosecute the local agents of the Pakistan army responsible for the war-time atrocities.
Motiur Rahman Nizami, chief of Jamaat-e-Islami party, Ali Ahsan Mumannad Mujahid, Kamaruzzaman, Abdul Kader Mollah of the same party and Bangladesh Nationalist Party leader Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury were hanged for crimes against humanity.
Bangladesh says an estimated 3 million people killed, 200,000 women raped and numerous homesteads torched in the then eastern part of Pakistan during the liberation war.
An earlier initiative to prosecute the war crimes was called off after the assassination of Bangladesh’s founding President Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1975 in a military putsch.