The three-judge International Crimes Tribunal-1 on Tuesday handed death sentence to three war criminals, and jailed another for 20 years, all from Sudharam, Noakhali.
They were convicted for committing crimes against humanity at different places under the then Sudharam thana in Noakhali district during the Liberation War.
Justice Md Shahinur Islam, the presiding judge, pronounced the operative part of the unanimous verdict while Justice Amir Hossain and Judge Md Abu Ahmed Jamadar read out parts of the verdict’s summery.
Of the death row convicts, Amir Ali, 70, of Uttar Fakirpur village and Md Joynal Abedin, 73, of Syedpur were in the dock.
Abul Kalam alias AKM Mansur, 67, of Nandanpur, the other death row convict is absconding.
Md Abdul Kuddus, 84, of Lakshmi-Narayanpur, jailed for 20 years was also in the dock.
In the dock, Amir, Joynal and Kuddus looked gloomy and their relatives broke into tears after hearing the verdict.
The tribunal expressed ‘grave frustration’ over the failure to nab Kalam, who raised the infamous Razakar force at Sudharam.
The tribunal directed the home secretary and the inspector general of police to get the absconding death row convict arrested.
The judges said in the verdict, ‘We consider it relevant to note that the nation feels immense pride that the historic March 7 speech of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the Father of the Nation has been recently recognised by the UNESCO as a “world documentary heritage”’.
They also said that ‘the March 7 glowing speech of Bangabandhu calling on the freedom-loving Bangalis crucially activated and inspired the whole nation, excepting a few pro-Pakistan people to get prepared for the War of Liberation.’
The verdict noted that all the three charges against the convicts were proved beyond any shadow of doubt.
Amir, Joynal and Kalam were sentenced to death and Kuddus to jail for 20 years finding them guilty of murdering over 100 villagers, 41 of them from the Shripur and Sonapur villages on June 15, 1971. The victims were picked up from the villages and tortured brutally before murdering them in cold blood. At first the offenders looted the victims’ homes and set them on fire in broad daylight before proceeding to pick up the victims.
Kuddus was handed the jail term as the tribunal found his role in the entire episode as ‘less crucial’ than the three others.
His jail term began Tuesday, said the verdict.
Death sentences were handed to Amir, Joynal and Kalam finding them guilty of murdering freedom fighters Ali Ahmed and Abul Kalam of Paschim Karimpur and Debipur villages respectively after abducting and torturing them. They were murdered on September 13, 1971. Kalam’s body was never found.
Amir and Kalam were given another death sentence for murdering nine villagers in front of the Ramharitaluk Primary School on September 13, 1971.
The duo along with at least 150 Pakistani army men committed the war crimes while raiding Ramharitaluk, Debipur and Uttar Chakla villages where the offenders looted and torched houses, captured nearly 300 villagers, took them to the school campus and tortured them before murdering nine of them.
Later, defence lawyer Gazi MH Tamim told reporters that his clients would appeal against the verdict.
Kalam, then a Convention Muslim League leader raised the Razakar Force at Sudharam and became its commander.
Amir, Joynal and Kuddus, all activists of the same party, were members of Razakar force.
Their trial ended on February 6.
On June 20, 2016, the indictment of the accused took place.
This was the 31st verdict in as many war crimes cases in Bangladesh and 20th for the ICT-1.
The tribunal examined 15 prosecution witnesses who testified against the war offenders.
The defence produced no witness.
Until now, 68 war criminals were convicted, 42 of them to death and 26 others were jailed.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Country