The Supreme Court has found Abdul Quader Molla guilty of murders and other war crimes and ordered his execution, converting his life sentence to the maximum punishment possible.
In the first case of final verdict on 1971 war crimes cases, a five-strong Appellate Division bench threw out the defence appeal for acquittal of the Jamaat-e-Islami’s Assistant Secretary General.
Chief Justice Md Muzammel Hossain, accepting the prosecution plea for death penalty, delivered the brief judgment at around 9:40am on Tuesday.
Reviewing two appeals of a verdict handed down by International Crimes Tribunal-2, the top appeals court sentenced the Jamaat leader to death with a 4-1 majority.
Quader Molla was acquitted in one of the six charges, and the sentences in other charges were maintained except the sixth for which he is to hang.
The tribunal’s sentence on the first, second, third and fifth charges were confirmed while the fourth was revised to life term by a majority.
Molla was unanimously found guilty of the sixth charge but was given death by a 4-1 majority.
The sixth charge accused Molla of directing a band of men with him to shoot Hazrat Ali Lashkar, slaughter his pregnant wife and youngest daughter, and slam his 2-year-old son against the ground and kill him on Mar 26 at their Mirpur Section 12 residence. One of Lashkar’s daughters was also raped.
He was given life term for leading a group of Razakars and killing hundreds of unarmed villagers in Keraniganj’s Bhawl Khanbari and Ghatarchar. The ICT-2 had acquitted Molla of the charge since the prosecution could not prove this charge, the verdict said.
Chief defence counsel Abdur Razzaq said it was the first time that the Supreme Court gave death for something that the trial court had given lifer.
“We are respectful of the highest court in the land and we are bound to accept this verdict,” he told journalists.
The lawyer termed the verdict ‘wrong’ and said: “We will file a review petition within 30 days of receiving the full verdict.”
Also an Assistant Secretary General of the Jamaat, Razzaq would not comment on whether his party colleague would seek presidential pardon.
“Koshai Quader’ or ‘Butcher Quader’ was sentenced to life in jail on Feb 5 this year for his war-time crimes.
He had flashed ‘victory’ sign to his supporters while leaving court then and his gesture triggered an unparalleled uprising from Shahbagh, dubbed as ‘Bangla Spring’ in Bangladesh and beyond. Millions of people had poured into the streets and staged non-violent demonstrations for days on end to demand highest penalty for war crimes conviction.
The judgment came after the protests forced the government to amend the appeals right for the prosecution. Previously, the prosecution could appeal only in case of an acquittal.
At Shahbagh, the Ganajagaran Mancha faithful shouted their exuberance. Many strained to make themselves heard – after all, it was his ‘lenient’ life sentence that sparked the youth uprising back in February.
The punishment of past atrocities was greeted with a huge sigh of relief and loud cheers by banner-carrying public.
The ruling Awami League has expressed satisfaction over the verdict.
Despite stiff resistance from the Jamaat-e-Islami, which wants repeal of the war crimes tribunals and claims that their leaders are victims of vendetta, the government has vowed to go ahead with the trial, saying it is justice delayed but not denied for the people who suffered so much during the war.
The first of the charges brought against him was that he had allegedly ordered the shooting of a Mirpur Bangla College student, Pallab, on Apr 5 1971.
The second charge said the Jamaat leader had killed poet Meherunnisa, her mother and two brothers on Mar 27 at their Mirpur residence.
He had allegedly picked up journalist Khandkar Abu Taleb from Arambagh area and slaughtered him in the Jalladkhana Pump House on Mar 29, according to the third charge.
The fourth charge stated Molla had led a group of Razakars and killed hundreds of unarmed villagers in Keraniganj’s Bhawl Khanbari and Ghatarchar areas.
The fifth charge alleged that the Jamaat leader went to Alokdi village on Apr 24, along with the Pakistan army and a band of Razakars, and went on a killing spree. Over 344 residents of the village were killed in the massacre.
The last charge alleged Molla of directing a band of men with him to shoot Hazrat Ali Lashkar, slaughter his pregnant wife and youngest daughter, and slam his two-year-old son against the ground and kill him on Mar 26 at their Mirpur Section 12 residence. One of Lashkar’s daughters was also raped.
Source: Bd news24