Death penalty for a B'desh war criminal Razakar
The International Crimes Tribunal made history yesterday by sentencing Abul Kalam Azad to death, in its maiden judgment, for genocide and crimes against humanity during the Liberation War.
The nation yesterday saw the sentencing of the first war criminal through a trial, something it had been demanding since the country was liberated in 1971.
The long-cherished International Crimes Tribunal-1 was formed in March, 2010, but it was the Tribunal-2, formed only in March, 2012, that delivered the verdict first against an accused.
In a packed courtroom, the Tribunal-2 said the three judges of the tribunal unanimously held Azad guilty.
The prosecution had brought eight charges against the expelled Jamaat-e-Islami leader for crimes he committed in Faridpur during the war.
However, Tribunal-2 Chairman Justice Obaidul Hassan and members Justice Md Mozibur Rahman Miah and Judge M Shahinur Islam held Azad guilty in six charges related to crimes against humanity and one charge for genocide,reports the daily star.
Tribunal-2 chief Justice Obaidul Hassan began reading out a 24-page summery of the verdict yesterday around 10:45am.
In the conclusion of the summery, the tribunal said, "It has been proved from testimony of witnesses that the accused had directly participated to the commission of crimes as an armed member of the Razakar force.
"Besides, we have found that for the reason of his atrocious acts in the locality, the accused was widely known as 'Razaker'."
As per the law, the tribunal said, "An individual incurs criminal liability for the direct commission of a crime, whether as an individual or jointly."
On November 4, 2012, the tribunal indicted Azad, who used to regularly preach on a couple of private TV channels.
Since November 26, a total 22 prosecution witnesses, including victims and family members of victims, and the investigation officer of the case, testified against him.
The tribunal-appointed defence counsel failed to produce any witnesses due to “non-cooperation” of Azad's family members.
Sahidur Rahman, conducting prosecutor of the case, expressed his satisfaction over the verdict.
Defence counsel Abdus Shukur Khan said the accused did not get justice.
"The accused will be benefited if he goes to the apex court against the verdict," he said, adding that the tribunal-appointed counsel does not have authority to file an appeal against the verdict.
Azad was charged with the killing of Chitta Ranjan Das in Faridpur in 1971. His son Gopal Das in an instant reaction to The Daily Star in Faridpur said, "My father's soul will rest in peace from today."
He thanked the government for holding the trial.
"Like me, thousands of sons, daughters and family members of martyrs are waiting to see other war criminals walking the gallows," said Gopal.
Some journalists rushed to Azad's home in Dhaka after the verdict but his wife refused to open the door or talk to them. She, however, did say that according to her knowledge, her husband was not involved in any crime and that she does not know Azad's whereabouts.
Proved Charges In Brief
During the first week of June 1971, Azad and his accomplices apprehended Ranjit Kumar Nath alias Babu Nath from Khabashpur in Faridpur town and took him to the Pakistani army camp at Faridpur Circuit House.
After discussion with Pakistani Major Akram Koraishi and Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed, Ranjit was taken to a house at Bihari Colony, kept confined to a room there and tortured with the intent to kill, but he somehow escaped.
On May 14, 1971, Azad accompanied by 10-12 armed Razakars attacked the village of Kolaran of Boalmari in Faridpur. There, he shot landlord Sudhangshu Mohan Roy and injured his son Monimoy Roy.
On May 16, 1971, Azad accompanied by 10-12 armed Razakars captured Madhab Chandra Biswas of Purura Namapara village of Nagarkanda in Faridpur, about 300 yards from his house. He shot Madhab to death.
On June 8, 1971, Azad along with 10-12 armed Razakars attacked Natibodia village in Boalmari of Faridpur and took away two females from the house. He along with four-five of his accomplices raped them.
On June 3, 1971, Azad along with 10-12 armed Razakars launched a planned attack on the Hindu-dominated village Fulbaria of Nagarkanda in Faridpur and looted houses.
Accompanied by seven-eight accomplices, Azad dragged out Chitta Ranjan Das from his house and shot him dead.
On May 17, 1971, Azad accompanied by 30-35 armed Razakars launched a planned attack on the Hindu-dominated Hasamdia village of Boalmari in Faridpur. They looted and burnt houses of Hindu civilians and shot seven Hindus to death.
On May 18, 1971, Azad along with seven-eight armed Razakars attacked the house of Guru Das of Ujirpur Bazarpara of Saltha in Faridpur and abducted his daughter and tortured her keeping her locked up for seven-eight days.
The girl was released, but she committed suicide when the accomplices of Azad tried to take her again.
In its maiden verdict, the three-member International Crimes Tribunal-2 sentenced 63-year-old Abul Kalam Azad, an anchor of Islamic programmes at a private TV channel, to death.
The verdict came as trial of eight other high-profile suspects of 1971 war crimes, mostly belonging to Jamaat-e-Islami that opposed Bangladesh's independence, was underway in two high-power special tribunals. The first of the two tribunals was constituted on 25 March, 2010 along with the special investigation agency and a prosecution cell in line with the election pledges of the ruling Awami League.
Six of the accused are stalwarts of Jamaat-e-Islami, including Ghulam Azam, the then chief of the erstwhile East Pakistan unit of the party; incumbent chief Matiur Rahman Nizami and secretary general Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojahid; and media doyen Mir Kashem Ali, who heads the pro-Jamaat Diganta Media Corporation. The two others, who belong to the Opposition BNP, are former ministers Salahuddin Qader Chowdhury and Abdul Alim.
- Asian Tribune .