The International Crimes Tribunal (ICT)-1 pronounced the verdict Wednesday afternoon on a crime against humanity case, awarding death sentence to the Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islmai party’s President Nizami, who is now behind the bar.
The three-member panel of the ICT-1 read the summary of the 204- page verdict at a jam-packed court room in the presence of a huge crowd of people particularly journalists and lawyers amid tightened security measures in and around the tribunal.
The panel explained the 16 charges leveled against the accused 71-year-old Jamaat chief.
Nizami was indicted in 2012 with 16 charges of crimes against humanity, including looting, mass killings, arson, rape and forcefully converting people into Muslims during the war.
The indictment order, in a brief profile of the accused, said Nizami was a key organizer of the Al-Badr, an auxiliary force of then Pakistani army which planned and executed the killing of Bangalee intellectuals at the end of the Liberation War in 1971.
After the verdict, International Crimes Tribunal prosecutor Tureen Afroz told reporters that “eight charges, including murder against Nizami, were proved beyond a reasonable doubt leading to a death sentence to the leader of Jamaat e Islami .”
Defense lawyer Tajul Islam told journalists that they will file a review petition, challenging the verdict of the ICT.
Five top Jamaat leaders have already been punished for their 1971 crimes and Nizami is among three other top leaders now being tried in war crimes tribunals Prime Minister Sheikh Hasian’s Bangladesh Awami League-led government in 2010 to bring the perpetrators of 1971 to book.
Apart from Jamaat high-ups, a few leaders of ex-Prime Minister Khaleda Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) are also facing trials.
Both BNP and Jamaat have 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.
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 believed that between 300,000 and 500,000 died.