Hearing on Jamaat chief Nizami’s death penalty begins

15 Sep 2015


On September 9, Bangladesh Supreme Court began hearing Jamaat chief Matiur Rahman Nizami’s appeal challenging the war crimes tribunal’s verdict sentencing him to death for his crimes against humanity during the liberation war in 1971.

On October 29 last year, International Crimes Tribunal-1 (ICT-1) handed Nizami the death penalty on four charges of war crimes including genocide, rape and massacre of intellectuals.


“No punishment other than death will be equal to the horrendous crimes for which Nizami has been found guilty”, Justice M Enayetur Rahim, Chairman of ICT-1 remarked while delivering the judgment.


“Justice is to make sure that the perpetrators have to pay for what they have done. Considering the extreme gravity of the crimes committed, it is indeed indispensable to deliver justice to the relatives of brutally murdered intellectuals, professionals and unarmed civilians”, added the judge.


Nizami challenged the verdict on November 23, 2014, claiming that he was innocent. After commencement of hearing on Nizami’s appeal, a four-member Appellate Division headed by the Chief Justice adjourned the hearing till November 3.


During the liberation war it was Nizami and his cohorts who provided intelligence to the occupying Pakistani forces about the whereabouts of the freedom fighters and their supporters / sympathizers; abducted and killed them with the help of Pakistani forces in various army camps and killing zones; burnt their homes and looted their properties; kidnapped Bengali women, trafficked them to various Pakistan Army camps to be used as comfort girl; and also raped women under the slogan of protecting Islam.


Nizami incited and instigated his followers by public speeches and newspaper articles supporting the Pakistani occupying forces for their onslaught against the freedom fighters. The Jamaat mouthpiece Dainik Sangram in its issue of November 14, 1971 reported Nizami as saying “The day is not far off when the young men of al-Badr, hand in hand with the patriotic Pakistani armed forces, will defeat ‘the Hindu forces and their collaborators’ (a term used by the pro-Pakistan forces to mean the liberation struggle and freedom fighters) and raise victorious banner of Islam, all over the world after destruction of India”.


Nizami and other senior Jamaat leaders used to deliver speeches to their followers giving wrong interpretation of Islam with the intent to incite young generation into countering freedom fighters and pro-liberation forces, treating them as enemies of Islam. In the context of the war, the wrong messages, namely ‘Pakistan is the house of Allah’, ‘Hindus are enemies of Muslims’ and ‘Pakistan and Islam are one and indivisible’ were infused in the mind of the young people as truth. On being inspired by this propaganda in the name of Islamic ideology they committed horrendous atrocities and crimes in collaboration with the Pakistani forces.


Nizami was involved in the murder of 601 unarmed people and violation of 31 women, according to the case documents. The most notable charge brought against him was his role in eliminating the best brains of the nation through planned killing of intellectuals and professionals prior to Bangladesh's victory in order to intellectually cripple the yet-to-be born country. The Pakistani occupation and local auxiliary forces, especially Razakar and al-Badr formed with the Jamaat members and headed by Nizami carried out selective elimination of respected professionals and intellectuals to give a mortal blow to independent Bangladesh. The victims' houses were burnt; they were dragged out, blindfolded, tortured, murdered, and their bodies were dumped in mass graves.


Earlier, Appellate Division of the Supreme Court overturned the death penalty awarded by ICT to another Jamaat leader Delwar Hossen Sayeedi although it was proved by the prosecution that Sayeedi was involved in committing genocide, raping and torturing women and collaborating with the occupying forces to crush the liberation war. This verdict came as a big shock to the people of the country and the government. Attorney General Mahbubey Alam made no secret of his disappointment and remarked that it was very strange that Supreme Court commuted the death sentence to life term.


Those who, under the cover of Islam, perpetrated inhuman brutalities on freedom fighters, raped women and handed over women to their Pakistani mentors to be used as comfort girl and those who unleashed terror to crush the liberation war are greater criminals than their Pakistani mentors and they deserve no mercy. Any verdict other than death penalty would be a grave miscarriage of justice for a condemned war criminal like Nizami.


It is worthwhile to mention that in another case too, notably Chittagong Arms Haul case 2004, Nizami has been sentenced to death.

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