Bangladesh’s highest court has upheld its previous verdict on the country’s largest Islamist party leader Muhammad Kamaruzzaman, rejecting his plea for reviewing death penalty for crimes against humanity during the country’s war of independence in 1971.
A four-member Appellate Division bench of the Bangladesh Supreme Court led by Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha on Monday morning dismissed the review petition of the Bangladesh Jamaat-e- Islami party’s Assistant Secretary General Kamaruzzaman who is now behind the bar.
Bangladesh’s war crimes tribunal on Feb. 19 issued a warrant of execution for Kamaruzzaman shortly after receiving the full text of the Supreme Court verdict that upheld the death penalty of Kamaruzzaman for his crimes against humanity during 1971.
But Kamaruzzaman then filed the review petition.
In his review petition, Kamaruzzaman made a plea to the highest court to scrap his conviction and acquit him of charges, his counsel Shishir Manir told journalists in March after submitting the petition.
Kamaruzzaman was indicted in June 2012 with seven charges of crimes against humanity including looting, mass killings, arson, rape and forcefully converting people into Muslims during the war.
The tribunal found the Jamaat leader guilty of committing war crimes including mass killings.
Bangladesh on Dec. 12 last year executed Jamaat leader Abdul Quader Molla, convicted of war crimes in 1971.
The death sentence of the war crimes accused Molla, assistant secretary general of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami Party, was executed hours after the Appellate Division dismissed his plea to review the Supreme Court verdict that confirmed the capital punishment on Sept. 17, 2013.
Muslim-majority Bangladesh was called East Pakistan until 1971. The government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said about 3 million people were killed in the war although independent researchers think that between 300,000 and 500,000 died.
After returning to power in January 2009, Hasina, the daughter of Bangladesh’s independence hero Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, established the first tribunal in March 2010, almost forty years after the 1971 fight for independence from Pakistan, to castigate those who committed crimes against humanity during the nine-month war.
Apart from Jamaat, ex-prime minister Khaleda Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), the country’s largest opposition party, has also dismissed the court as a government “show trial” and said it is a domestic set-up without the oversight or involvement of the United Nations.
But the ruling Bangladesh Awami League party denied the calls of the BNP and Jamaat, saying they are creating anarchic situation in the name of political programs aimed at foiling ongoing war crimes trial. Enditem