The apex court of the country will deliver its judgement on the appeal case filed by top war criminal Motiur Rahman Nizami, also chief of Jamaat-e-Islami, challenging his death penalty on January 6.
The four-member Appellate Division bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha set the date yesterday after concluding hearing on the appeal.
On the closing day of arguments, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam prayed to the court to uphold Nizami’s death penalty as he had instigated and abetted al-Badr, an auxiliary force of the Pakistani Army, to exterminate the country’s intellectuals and many other freedom fighters during the 1971 Liberation War.
On the other side, Nizami’s chief counsel Khandaker Mahbub Hossain prayed to the court to acquit his client from the charges. He, however, prayed to the court to commute the 75-year-old Jamaat leader’s death sentence to life imprisonment if it found him guilty of his wartime offence.
According to the case, Nizami headed al-Badr force during the war. Its members were recruited from Jamaat’s erstwhile student wing Islami Chhatra Sangha. Nizami had led the force as the then head of the Chhatra Sangha.
He was sentenced to death by the International Crimes Tribunal on October 29 last year. Eight of the 16 charges were proven by the prosecution. The tribunal handed him down death penalty on four charges and life imprisonment on the four others.
The charges include leading the execution of intellectuals, mass killing, rape and loot in Dhaka and Pabna.
The tribunal said Nizami had been involved in “planning and conspiring” mass killings, murders, rapes and looting at different villages in Pabna. Nizami carries the “supreme responsibility” for the crimes committed by Chhatra Sangha and Jamaat men.
He appealed against the sentence on November 23 last year.
Earlier, the top court bench disposed of five war crimes appeal cases. Four of the convicts were executed while the death sentence of Delawar Hossain Sayedee was commuted to life-term jail.
Talking to reporters following the hearing, the attorney general said Nizami was undoubtedly an instigator of the war crimes. His articles and writings were among the facts that encouraged al-Badr men to kill the pro-liberation people.