Spending handsome amount of money to prolong the trial, intimidating prosecution witnesses and making the country unstable through subversive acts were the techniques death-row convict war criminal Mir Quasem resorted to to save his head.
It is already proved that he has spent $25m to make the ongoing trial of war criminals controversial.
According to the receipt dated October 6, 2010, Quasem appointed US lobbyist firm Cassidy and Associates for campaigning against the trial. Some documents recovered show that the firm received the money to provide “professional services to the war criminal.”
Since the agreement, many foreign diplomats and organisations criticised the International Crimes Tribunal for lacking international standards and demanded “fair and transparent trails” by giving the defence more scopes to prove the accused innocent.
The pressure groups also issued statements at times to stop executing the convicted war criminals, most of who are from Jamaat-e-Islami – a religion-based party that opposed the birth of Bangladesh in 1971.
Even a day before the review verdict, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam said that he was tensed over Quasem's activities.
In the full text of the appeals verdict, which upheld his death sentence on one charge, the Appellate Division observed that as a rich person, Mir Quasem was capable of spending the money.
The government also blames Jamaat for carrying out subversive activities in the name of demonstrations and shutdowns opposing the trial, and for patronising militant groups and conducting targeted killings since 2013.
Barrister Tureen Afroz, one of the state counsels at the International Crimes Tribunal, said they had to stay extra cautious as the convict had spent huge amount of money to stop the trial.
Prosecutor Ziad Al-Malum said: “In this case, he [Quasem] first tried to negotiate with the witnesses by offering them money. When failed, his men issued threats.”
Executive President of Ekattorer Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee Shahriar Kabir said: “They [Jamaat] emphasised on creating unrest in the country when they realised that the trial will take place for sure.”
They also wanted to oust the government considering that a change in the government might save the Jamaat leaders facing trial for their atrocities in 1971.
“Today’s money man Quasem, shortly after the independence, ran propaganda in the Middle East that the freedom fighters destroyed many mosque and madrasas during the war. The Middle East countries provided monetary help to rebuild those. But Quasem invested the money in businesses and became rich,” Kabir said.
After the review petition was rejected yesterday, the attorney general said: “Money cannot evade a trial. As a lawyer I can be anxious, as we saw his attempts to foil the trial. But this sentences has established the rule of law.”
Quasem was al-Badr’s third most important functionary after Jamaat chief Motiur Rahman Nizami and secretary general Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid. Nizami’s death sentence was executed on May 11 while Mujahid was hanged on November 21 last year.
Two other death-row convict top al-Badr leaders – Chowdhury Mueen Uddin and Ashrafuzzaman Khan – have remained fugitive. The government is working to bring them back and execute the sentences.