Bangladesh SC judgement confirms death for Jamaat media baron

Dhaka: Bangladesh’s Supreme Court on Monday released its judgement confirming capital punishment for a top Islamist leader for war crimes committed during the country’s 1971 liberation war against Pakistan, three months after it delivered the verdict upholding his death penalty.

The court verdict had paved the way for execution of Jamaat-e-Islami stalwart and media tycoon Mir Quasem Ali, dealing a major blow to the fundamentalist Islamist party.

“He (Ali) does not deserve any leniency on the question of sentence on consideration of the nature and gravity of the offence,” read the apex court’s 244-page judgement.

Sixty-four-year old Ali, who owns several business houses and media outlets is a central executive council member of Jamaat-e-Islami and regarded as a top financer of the party which was opposed to Bangladesh’s 1971 independence.

Attorney general Mahbubey Alam said that the verdict would reach prison authorities in due process through the country’s International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) which had originally handed down the death penalty.

“The jail authorities will convey to him the judgement immediately thereafter the convict will get 15 days time to decide if he would file a review petition (before the apex court),” Alam said.

Ali’s chief counsel said his client was likely to file a petition seeking a review of the apex court’s verdict.

The decision of the five-member bench of the top court came 16 months after the ICT sentenced Ali to death for atrocities committed during the liberation war.

In November, 2014, Ali who had challenged the verdict, was sentenced to death on a number of charges including mass killing and tortures at southeastern port city of Chittagong.

He was convicted of running a militia torture cell, Al Badr, that carried out killings of several people.

Three million people were said to have been massacred in the war by the Pakistani army and their local collaborators.

Ali went into hiding after Pakistan occupation forces and their local collaborators surrendered on December 16, 1971, and reemerged later as a Jamaat-e-Islami leader.

The apex court’s latest verdict comes after the May 10 hanging of Jamaat chief Motiur Rahman Nizami as the last major war criminal.

Four people, including three Jamaat leaders and one BNP stalwart have been hanged so far since the war crimes trial process began six years ago while two others died in prison of old age.