Former Jamaat-e-Islami MP Sakhawat Hossain has been sentenced to death for the crimes against humanity he had committed in Jessore during the 1971 Liberation War.
Sakhawat, now a leader of Jatiya Party, was given the punishment for the torture and murder of Chandtulla Gazi and his son Atiyar of Keshabpur upazila’s Chingra village; and the abduction, torture and murder of Abdul Malek Sardar of Keshabpur Upazila’s Hijaldanga village in Jessore.
“The sentence of death awarded be executed by hanging the convict accused Md Sakhawat Hossain by the neck or by shooting him till he is dead, as decided by the government,” the verdict says.
Delivering the judgement yesterday, the International Crimes Tribunal headed by Justice Anwarul Haque said that all the five charges – abduction, confinement, torture, rape and murder of Bangalis – brought against him had been proven against him.
Two other members of the tribunal are Justice Md Shahinur Islam and Justice Md Shohrowardi.
It is the 26th verdict in war crimes cases. The first judgement was pronounced against war criminal Abul Kalam Azad alias Bachchu Razakar on January 21, 2013.
The tribunal yesterday also sentenced seven others to imprisonment until death. They are Md Billal Hossain, Md Ibrahim Hossain, Sheikh Md Mujibur Rahman, Md Abdul Aziz Sarder, Qazi Ohidul Islam alias Wahidur Salam, Md Aziz Sarder and Abdul Khalek Morol.
Another accused, Lutfor Morol, died of cardiac arrest in police custody on May 6 this year. All but Sakhawat and Billal have been on the run.
The defence lawyers said that they would file an appeal with the Appellate Division against the judgement while the state counsels said they were satisfied.
A total of seventeen witnesses testified against the war criminals during the trial. The tribunal finished hearing in the case on July 14 and kept the case pending for verdict.In 1971, Sakhawat was the a member of Islami Chhatra Sangha, the erstwhile student wing of Jamaat, and later become a leader of al-Badr in Jessore. The seven others were involved with the razakar force. He went into hiding after the independence and resumed politics in 1986 as a leader of Jamaat in Jessore. He was elected lawmaker from Jessore 6 constituency with Jamaat ticket in 1991. He later joined the BNP and became an MP in the February 15 elections in 1996. Also known as Maulana Shakhawat, the war criminal is now the religious affairs secretary of Jatiya Party. During the 2014 national elections, he contested from Jatiya Party from the same constituency but could not win. He was arrested over war crimes charges on November 29, 2014. The tribunal’s probe body started investigation against him in 2012. In this case, the prosecution pressed charges against 12 people on July 26 last year. The tribunal accepted the charges against nine on September 8. Finally, five charges were framed against them on December 23. The offences took place between mid-September and mid-October in 1971. After the full verdict is published, the convicts will get 30-day time to file appeals but the absconders will have to surrender to avail the legal opportunity. Their role in 1971 The gang of war criminals unleashed series of incidents of terror during the war under the leadership of Sakhawat. In the Bengali month of Ashwin, Sakhawat asked his fellow men to pick up a woman of Boga area on charge of “spying” for the freedom fighters. The woman was picked up by a team of Ibrahim, the two Azizs and 10-12 razakaras. During her confinement at Chingra Bazar camp for three days, she was tortured and raped by Sakhawat. The tribunal awarded Sakhawat, Ibrahim, two Azizs 20-year imprisonment each for the offence. Sakhawat also used to incite his men to to kill supporters and activists of the Awami League and pro-liberation people in the area terming them kafirs and munafeks. In such a meeting held in Bengali month of Shraban, he asked his 25-30 razakars to carry out a massacre. Thereafter, in the mid of Bangla month Bhadra, Shakhawat, Ibrahim, Billal, Mujibur, Aziz Sardar, Abdul Aziz Sardar, Ohidul, Lutfor, Khaleque and other 8/9 razakars raided the house of freedom fighter Chandtulla Gazi but could not get him. They having plundered set fire to two dwelling houses of Chandtulla. At that moment, the wife of Chandtulla having taken her one and a half year old son Atiar, who was crying in her lap, touched the legs of Sakhawat requesting not to plunder and set their houses on fire. But Sakhawat kicked her down along with her son. As a result, they were thrown down on a wooden cot and Atiar was seriously injured that resulted in his death after 17 days. In the Bangla month Ashwin, the collaborators again raided the house but Chandtulla luckily escaped and hid himself inside a bush near his house. They found him out, took him to Chingra razakar camp, confined him for four days and killed by rifle shot on the bank of the Kopotakkho River and left his body there. For these offences, Sakhawat was sentenced to death while the seven others to life in prison. According to the third charge, in the month of Ashwin, the local razakars including Mujibur, Ibrahim and Khaleque instructed by Sakhawat picked up Nur Uddin Morol and brutally tortured him at the razakar camp. He was released later. Sakhawat, Khaleque and Mujibur were sentenced to 10-year jail while Ibrahim acquitted. Meanwhile, at the end of Ashwin, the razakars of Chingra camp having abducted A Malek Sardar, a source of the freedom fighters, confined him at the camp and tortured him mercilessly. Sakhawat, Ibrahim, A Aziz Sardar, Abdul Aziz and Khaleque along with other 6/7 razakars brought Malek from the camp to Chingra Bazar ferry ghat and Sakhawat himself killed him by a gun shot. The body was thrown down on the bank of the Kopotakkho River. Sakhawat was awarded death sentence for the offence while four others to life in prison. The last charge says that upon Sakhawat’s instructions, razakars detained freedom fighter Miron Sheikh. As he tried to escape, razakars shot him and took him to the Chingra Bazar camp. Miron became crippled due to the torture and was later thrown into the river thinking him dead. Sakhawat, Ibrahim, two Aziz and Khaleque were sentenced to 15-year imprisonment each for the offence.