Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)- The International Crimes Tribunal-1 condemned on Tuesday BNP policymaker Salauddin Quader Chowdhury, MP to death on four counts of crimes against humanity, including genocide, during the Liberation War 42 years ago.
With the 64-year-old accused in the dock, tribunal chairman Justice ATM Fazle Kabir, flanked by its two other members-Justice Jahangir Hossain and Justice Anwarul Haque-pronounced the verdict at 1:15 pm in the jam-packed courtroom.
The tribunal also sentenced war criminal Salauddin Quader to a total of 70 years’ rigorous imprisonment with different jail terms on five counts of charges.
Of the sentences, the capital punishment stands in operation, the 172-page judgment said.
Soon after the judgment, war criminal Salauddin Quader wearing white panjabi and trouser before returning to condemned cell from the dock said, “The verdict has already been released by the Law Ministry and it’s available online since yesterday (Monday), thanks to the Law Ministry.”
Emerging from the tribunal, Salauddin Quader’s counsel Barrister Fakhrul Islam told media that he would appeal before the Supreme Court against the ICT verdict.
The tribunal found Salauddin Quader, the son of Pakistan Convention Muslim League president Fazlul Quader Chowdhury, guilty of the crimes of genocide at Rauzan and murder of minority Hindu community members, including Nutan Chandra Singh, the founder of Kundeshwari Owsadhalay of Gohira, Awami League leaders and supporters of Bangladesh’s war of independence.
The tribunal also found him guilty of the charge of torture the accused carried out on captives at his ancestral house ‘Good Hills’ in the port city of Chittagong during the 1971 Liberation War.
The BNP stalwart was, however, acquitted of eight charges as the prosecution failed to prove those charges beyond any reasonable doubt.
Besides, during the trial, the prosecution could not place its witnesses to prove the other six charges brought against Salauddin Quader Chowdhury.
The 172-page judgment was pronounced by all the three judges in phases, which had been kept pending for 47 days after closing law-point arguments by both sides.
On the eve of pronouncing the judgment, the government ensured foolproof security in and around the tribunal at Old High Court Building in the capital Dhaka.
A total of 41 prosecution witnesses, including the investigation officer, testified against Salauddin Quader Chowdhury while four defence witnesses for him.
The prosecution submitted formal charge against Salauddin Quader Chowdhury, also MP for six times, on November 14, 2011.
The tribunal took cognisance of the offences on November 17, 2011.
On April 4 last year, the tribunal indicted Salauddin Quader Chowdhury for his involvement in crimes against humanity during the 1971 Liberation War on 23 counts under different provisions of subsection 3 (2) and 4(1) of the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act 1973.
The charges include abduction and killing civilians, collaborating with the Pakistani occupation army to kill and torture unarmed people, genocide, looting of valuables and torching of houses and other property, persecuting people on religious and political grounds, and committing atrocities on Hindus in Chittagong district.
The tribunal in its judgment made an observation on Salauddin Quader’ s habitual haughty behaviour during the trial proceedings terming it unusual and unbecoming.
Advocates Syed Haider Ali, Zead Al Malum, Sultan Mahmud Simon and Dr Tureen Afroz appeared for the prosecution while advocate Ahsanul Huq Huq Hena appeared for the accused as the chief counsel.
Among others, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam, the chief law officer of the government, and historian Dr Muntassir Mamoon, were present.
BBN/SSR/AD-02Oct13-10:01 am (BST)