Jamaat-i-Islami leader asks Bangladesh court to commute death sentence

December 02, 2015

Email

“Considering his age and physical condition, we appealed to reduce the gravity of the punishment,” said defence lawyer. —AFP/File
“Considering his age and physical condition, we appealed to reduce the gravity of the punishment,” said defence lawyer. —AFP/File

DHAKA: The lawyer representing the head of Bangladesh's Jamaat-i-Islami party appealed on Wednesday to the country's Supreme Court to commute his death penalty for war crimes to life in prison.

The country's war crimes tribunal, set up in 2010 to investigate abuses during the 1971 war, handed down the sentence in October last year.

“Considering his age and physical condition, we appealed to reduce the gravity of the punishment,” Motiur Rahman Nizami's defence lawyer Khandaker Mahbub Hossain told Reuters.

“According to official documents he is 73 years old, but his real age is more than that and he has been suffering for four months from different (health) complications, because of which the trial has been suspended for that period,” he said.

The prosecution will resume arguments in the case on December 7.

Attorney General Mahbubey Alam told a news briefing that, for the first time, a Jamaat member had confessed to committing war crimes during the 1971 conflict, but Hossain denied Nizami had made any such admission.

Bangladesh executed two opposition leaders last month for war crimes.

Leader of Jamaat-i-Islami Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid and Salauddin Quader Chowdhury from the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), were hanged last month, shortly after President Abdul Hamid rejected their appeals for clemency.

Pakistan expressed its concern and displeasure over their execution and termed the trials of war tribunal as flawed.

After this the Bangladeshi government summoned Pakistan's High Commissioner Shuja Alam and lodged strong protest over the statement made by Foreign Office, terming it an interference into internal matters of Bangladesh.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina opened an inquiry five years ago into crimes committed during the 1971 war, paving the way for prosecutions by a tribunal that Jamaat-i-Islami have denounced as part of a political campaign to weaken party's leadership.

The government denies accusations of interference in the judiciary.