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Dhaka Tribune

Alim to die in prison

Update : 09 Oct 2013, 08:54 PM

Kanchira Mohan, a 90-year-old from Koroi Kadipur village in Joypurhat, was not spared when war criminal Abdul Alim masterminded the killing of 370 Hindus there during the 1971 Liberation War.

But 42 years after the atrocities, the same Alim now in his 80s escaped death sentence because of “old age,” "illness," and “physical disability” as the International Crimes Tribunal 2 on Wednesday sentenced him to imprisonment until death.

Alim was 41 when he committed horrendous crimes against humanity and genocide in Joypurhat as a leader of Peace Committee and razakar forces.

The former BNP minister was convicted on four charges that include the killing of Kanchira Mohan, who was slaughtered by Alim’s accomplices on April 26, 1971. Another villager Awshini Kumar Debnath was buried alive during the massacre of 370 Hindus in Koroi Kadipur.

“Alim ... acted as an atrocious and potential leader of Joypurhat Peace Committee to the actual accomplishment of the crimes proved and he was visibly associated with the [Pakistan] army which is a fair indicative of his high level of culpability,” said the tribunal in the verdict.

The judgement said: “Being confined within the fences until the remaining part of life may let the convict to sense what extreme deliberate criminal acts he committed directing the unarmed civilians, by taking culpable stand against the birth of Bangladesh.”

Imprisonment for remainder of the natural life refers to shutting the “outside world” out and bringing focus into the world within the fences or walls, said the verdict with an unprecedented sentence in the history of the country’s judiciary.

A former Convention Muslim League leader, Alim “never opted to articulate remorse in any manner, either during or before the trial” for his crimes.

He planned these atrocities with the Pakistani Army and accompanied them in the killing spots along with other local members of the Peace Committee and razakar auxiliaryforces of the Pakistani occupation force that killed three million Bangalees and raped more than 250,000 women during the nine-month-long war.

Alim committed the crimes in Joypurhat, participating in person or abetting the Pakistani army in collaboration with the anti-liberation and antagonistic political organisations like Jamaat-e-Islami, Muslim League, Convention Muslim League, Nezam-e-Islami and groups of pro-Pakistan people.

Alim also mentored local razakars who worked as his accomplices in crimes that include killing, looting, arson and destroying property of those who wanted an independent Bangladesh.

Politician Alim was a lawyer. He was elected a lawmaker from Joypurhat three times.

The tribunal in its verdict said the “highly educated local elite” like Alim “could have contributed to uphold the human dignity instead of being involved with the horrendous atrocities by collaborating with the Pakistani occupation army.

“But he deliberately and consciously opted to be with the perpetrators, facilitating the commission of crimes by them and in this way he perceptibly acted against human civilisation.”

Chairman Justice Obaidul Hassan and members Justice Md Mozibur Rahman Miah and Justice Md Shahinur Islam of the tribunal pronounced the summary of 191-page verdict relatively in a less-crowded courtroom, as Alim now belongs to no party. Only his two sons, their friends and a lawyer were present in the courtroom.

Alim had joined the BNP and became a state minister in Gen Ziaur Rahman’s cabinet. He was expelled from the BNP in August 2007 after reportedly campaigning in favour of the “reformist” faction of the party against its chief Khaleda Zia.

The tribunal took 110 minutes to pronounce the summary of the verdict when each of the judges read out one part of it.

Alim has been found guilty of crimes which were no isolated incidents, but “parts of ‘systematic’ and ‘planned’‘attack’ intended to the accomplishment of offence of crimes against humanity and ‘genocide’.”

The prosecution brought 28 charges against Alim and the tribunal indicted him for 17. The prosecution could prove nine of the charges “beyond reasonable doubt.”

The tribunal sentencedAlim to “imprisonment for remaining part of life” and said the sentence “shall be served in full, until his natural death for the crimes” mentioned in four separate charges of massacre, killing, looting and destroying property of civilians in Joypurhat.

The tribunal sentenced him to 20 years’ imprisonment for four other charges and 10 years for one. But all these sentences would be merged with the sentence of jail until death, said the tribunal.

Alim was sitting on a wheelchair in the dock, wearing white lungi and kurta and brown leather sandals. His sons were sitting on the benches in front of the dock.

They naturally were aggrieved over the judgement. One of the sons, Khalid Bin Alim, told the Dhaka Tribune: “We are dissatisfied and aggrieved by the verdict. We will appeal against it.”

In his immediate reaction, defence counsel Ahsanul Haq, who never faced media until on Wednesday, said they would challenge the sentence at the Appellate Division. Hedeclined to make further comments.

Justice seekers and the prosecution gave mixed reactions as they expected death sentence, many were not satisfied.

Legal professional Shahdin Malik told the Dhaka Tribune: “This is an unprecedented sentence in the history of the country’s judiciary.

“But there is a provision of giving this type of sentence in American law and there are similar instances in the judgements of some other countries.”

Attorney General Mahbubey Alam said: “We will decide what to do only after receiving the copy of the full verdict. We will analyse the verdict and if there is any ground to appeal, we will obviously do so.”

Freedom fighter Shahidul Huq, better known as Mama, expressed discontent and termed it “a wheelchair verdict” as it was given considering the convict’s age and physical condition.

Shahriar Kabir, executive president of Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee, said Alim had actually got the life sentence, but considering his physical condition it would not be executed. “As the tribunal mentioned that Alim committed genocide, the truth won at that moment.” He, however, expressed doubt over Alim’s disability.  

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