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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2553

Death For Al Badr Command And Media Doyen Mir Quasem Ali

From Diplomatic Correspondent
Dhaka, 03 November, (Asiantribune.com)

A top leader of fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami party and Bangladeshi media doyen Mir Quasem Ali was sentenced to death on Sunday by a special tribunal for war crimes he committed during the independence war against Pakistan in 1971, days after the party's chief was given capital punishment on identical charges.

"He (Ali) shall be hanged by neck until he is dead," pronounced chairman of the three-member tribunal as the 62-year-old Jamaat leader looked bewildered on the dock.

The court simultaneously sentenced him to 72-year imprisonment for several other charges while lawyers said the jail terms would be virtually infructuous since he was sentenced to death.

Emerging from the court, the lawyers and witnesses said the tribunal found Ali guilty of 10 out of 14 charges while under two charges he was sentenced to death for torturing to death two juvenile freedom fighters and throwing their bodies into a river at northeastern port city of Chittagong.

Ali was said to have been the third man in the command of the infamous Gestapo like Al-Badr militia forces and is also known to be a top financier of Jamaat as he owned a number of big businesses in Bangladesh.

Out of 24 prosecution witnesses, several were survivors of the torture camp at the Dalim Hotel.

Prosecution lawyer Turin Afroz welcomed the verdict, saying "It is another step forward to end the culture of impunity", while the defence lawyers quoting Ali after the judgment said "it is prescribed verdict in a fabricated case".

"We will definitely challenge the verdict before the Supreme Court," defence lawyer Mizanul Islam told media persons reports agency PTI.

BBC says, a second leader of Bangladesh's largest Islamic party has been sentenced to death for war crimes committed during the 1971 war against Pakistan.Media tycoon Mir Quasem Ali faced 14 charges including letting loose a "reign of terror" in Chittagong.Eight of the charges were proven, making Mr Ali the second Jamaat-e-Islami leader to be sentenced to death in four days.Jamaat-e-Islami has called a 24-hour national strike on Thursday to protest.

As the third most powerful man of the Al-Badr force, Ali got highest penalty -- death sentence -- for two charges.

One charge is torture and killing of adolescent freedom fighter Jasim along with five unidentified people after Eid-ul-Fitr of 1971 at Dalim Hotel at Andorkilla in Chittagong after abduction. The other charge is kidnapping of Jahangir Alam Chowdhury, Ranjit Das Prokash Latu and Tuntu Sen in November, 1971. Latu and Tuntu were later killed and their bodies were never found.

Mir Quasem is known as a key financier of Jamaat, which was instrumental to block the birth of Bangladesh by collaborating with Pakistan occupation forces and carrying out crimes against humanity.

"The verdict was based on false witness accounts," defence counsel Mizanul Islam quoted the convict in his immediate reaction inside the court.

Alleging that they were deprived of justice, Islam said they would appeal with the Supreme Court where they expected of getting justice reports the daily star.

The daily Star in its report gave the background of ICT Case against Mir Quasem, it stated that :on May 4, the Tribunal-2 concluded hearing the closing arguments in Quasem's case and kept the case awaiting verdict.

According to the prosecution, Quasem, president of Jamaat's then student wing Islami Chhatra Sangha's (ICS's) Chittagong town unit, colluded with the Pakistan army, Jamaat, and other anti-liberation forces and formed Al-Badr force there in 1971.

Several Al-Badr camps were set up in Chittagong under Quasem's leadership for torturing and killing pro-liberation people. Quasem also had links with the Pak army and was directly involved in crimes like abduction, torture and murder in 1971, the prosecution said.

The prosecution produced 24 witnesses, mostly victims, and documents to prove the charges. It, however, could not produce any witness in support of two charges.

Mir Quasem was born to Mir Tayeb Ali and Rabeya Begum in Munsidangi Sutalori of Manikganj on December 31, 1952. He joined the ICS in 1967 when he was studying at Chittagong Collegiate School. Later, he became the president of Chittagong town unit ICS and on November 6, 1971, he became the general secretary of East Pakistan unit of the student body, according to prosecution documents.

When the ICS re-emerged as Islami Chhatra Shibir in 1977, he became its president and joined Jamaat as an activist in 1980. He now is a member of Jamaat's central executive council, the highest policy-making body of the Islamist party.

According to a defence petition filed on July 19, 2013, Quasem is the chairman of real estate company Keari Ltd and director of Diganta Media Corporation Ltd. He used to be a member secretary of Islami Bank Foundation and holds management positions in many other business ventures and organisations.

Quasem was arrested on June 17, 2012. The Tribunal-1 on May 26 took into cognisance the charges pressed by the prosecution and indicted him on 14 charges on September 5, 2013. On September 30, the case was transferred to the Tribunal-2.

People from all walks in life including leaders of different socio-political organisations, academics and common people here today hailed the capital punishment pronounced by the International War Crimes Tribunal (ICT)-2 against Jamaat-e-Islami leader Mir Quasem Ali.

“We’re happy with this verdict, Mir Quasem has got the punishment he deserved,” said Shafiullla, who headed the Bangladesh Army after independence.

To-morrow verdict of Jamaat’s Assistant Secretary General Kamaruzzaman
The Supreme Court will judge on Monday Jamaat-e-Islami leader Mohammad Kamaruzzaman’s appeal to overturn his death sentence for war crimes in 1971.

The Appellate Division scheduled his verdict, more than a month after the four-strong bench headed by Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha held the final hearing on his appeal on Sept 17.

“Tomorrow is the day of the verdict. The decision has been taken. We’re waiting for the cause list,” the Supreme Court’s Acting Registrar Kuddus Zaman told bdnews24.com.

Jamaat’s Assistant Secretary General Kamaruzzaman was sentenced to hang until death last year after being found guilty of five of the seven charges against him.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina set up the war crimes tribunal in 2010 to look into abuses during the independence war.

- Asian Tribune-

Bangladeshi media doyen Mir Quasem Ali
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