War crimes: Death warrant read out to Jamaat leader Azhar

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Azhar to file review petition

The death warrant for war crimes convict Jamaat-e-Islami leader ATM Azharul Islam has been read out to him at Kashimpur High Security Prison in Gazipur.

The warrant reached the prison early Tuesday and it was read out to him in the morning, Bikash Raihan, superintendent of the prison said.

However, Azhar, former assistant secretary general of Jamaat, said he would file a petition seeking review of the Appellate Division verdict that upheld the death sentence handed down to him by the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT), he said.

“He [Azhar] has to submit the petition within one week, otherwise, the verdict will be executed in the stipulated time,” the jail superintendent added. 

On Monday, the tribunal sent the death warrant to the senior jail superintendent of Dhaka Central Jail in Keraniganj, which was then forwarded to the authorities of Kashimpur jail. 

The warrant, however, triggered the countdown to the execution of the war criminal. 

ICT Prosecutor Razia Sultana Chaman said if the convict filed a review petition, the countdown would be paused. After disposing of the petition, the government might take steps to carry out the verdict.

Meanwhile, Advocate Mohammad Shishir Monir, defence counsel for Azhar, said they would file a petition, as per law, upon receiving the certified copy of the verdict.

On October 31, 2019, the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court upheld the death sentence of Azharul Islam on charges of crimes against humanity he had committed during the 1971 Liberation War.

The apex court, based on a majority decision, upheld the death sentence handed down by the ICT on charges of involvement in murder and genocide, along with a five-year imprisonment on different charges relating to abduction and torture.

The Appellate Division, however, acquitted Azhar of the charges of abetting the Pakistani military in detaining, raping, and torturing women in Rangpur town, for which he had been sentenced to 25 years of rigorous imprisonment by the tribunal.

On December 30, 2014, the International Crimes Tribunal 1 convicted Azharul in the war crimes case, after finding him guilty in five of the six charges levelled against him.

Azhar, who was arrested from his Moghbazar home in Dhaka in 2012 on war crimes charges, had filed the appeal against his death sentence on January 28, 2015.