SC releases full verdict of Kamaruzzaman

The Supreme Court on Monday 2 march released the full verdict upholding the death penalty for Jamaat-e-Islami leader Muhammad Kamaruzzaman in a war crimes case.

Earlier in the day, all the four SC judges, who had delivered the verdict on November 3 last year by a majority decision, signed the 577-page judgment.

They judges are Chief Justice SK Sinha, Justice Md Abdul Wahhab Miah, Justice Hasan Foez Siddique and Justice AHM Shamsuddin Choudhury Manik.

The government can now start process for executing Kamaruzzaman as the Supreme Court released the full judgment upholding his death penalty, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam said after the release of the verdict.

There is no legal bar for the government to fix a date for the execution of the Jamaat’s assistant secretary general, he told The Daily Star.

He however said the execution process will be suspended if the convict files a review petition with the apex court challenging his death penalty.

Sishir Monir, the defence lawyer confirmed the reporters that they have recieved the certified copy of the verdict. He also informed that they will file a review petition challenging the verdict.

Kamaruzzaman, an Assistant Secretary General of Jamaat-e-Islami,  faced a total of seven charges against him in relation to crimes committed during the 1971 war. He denies all charges as baseless and pleaded innocent. His lawyers and family have alleged his trial was politically motivated and replete with flaws.

Among criticisms of the trial process are that during the war Kamaruzzaman was a teenager thus ineligible for the high paramilitary role he is alleged to have held. Furthermore, the charges against him are all unprecedented; in the 40 years since the war, no charges or allegations of any crimes during the war were levied against him. This included in the post war period when Kamaruzzaman was arrested among many during mass arrests of those suspected of being local collaborators. No evidence was found against Kamaruzzaman and he was immediately released.

 

Criticisms have also emerged regarding the trial process, including the arbitrary limit to only five witnesses placed on the defence with no such limit placed on the prosecution. The ICT has also faced criticism following the “tribunalgate” scandal wherein leaked recordings revealed collusion between judges, prosecution, government officials and individuals external to the trial with vested interests.

Talking to The Daily Star, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam said Kamaruzzaman has to file the review petition with the SC within 15 days after the release of the full judgment.

The Appellate Division of the SC might take a few days for hearing and disposing of the review petition, if filed by the convict, he added. The scope for reviewing judgments in criminal cases is very little, observed the attorney general.

Justice SK Sinha, now the chief justice, headed the four-member SC bench. The other members were Justice Md Abdul Wahhab Miah, Justice Hasan Foez Siddique and Justice AHM Shamsuddin Choudhury Manik. The SC has so far completed the trials of two war crimes accused, while the trials of seven others are pending with it.

On 15 February 2015, Kamaruzzaman’s party, Jamaat-e-Islami issued a statement condemning the impending verdict and alleging the government is intending to execute Kamaruzzaman as an act of political expediency in the current political impasse gripping the nation.

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