Dhaka, May 10: War crimes convict Matiur Rahman Nizami, ameer of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, was hanged last night at 12:10 AM for his crimes against humanity during the country’s War of Liberation in 1971.
Nizami, also the former head of Al-Badr, a ruthless militia that unleashed terror on peace-loving Bangalees in 1971, walked the gallows at the Dhaka Central Jail amid tight security. The count down for Nizami’s execution began when his review plea was rejected by the Supreme Court on May 5.
The full verdict of the review bench was released on Monday and later it was read out to 73 years old Nizami by the jail authorities. The only option to the former minister was to seek presidential clemency but when he informed the authorities that he would not seek clemency, authorities concerned started the process to execute the Nizami verdict.
In the morning, hangmen who conducted the execution, were summoned from Kahimpur jail and Nizami’s family members were asked to meet the convicted Jamaat chief.
A total of 22 members including two sons, wife and a grandchild met Nizami at the jail around 8:15pm. Earlier in the day, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal told reporters that Nizami will be hanged on Tuesday night as the war crimes convict did not seek presidential mercy. According to the ICT-1 verdict, Nizami was the president of Jamaat’s student wing Islami Chhatra Sangha from 1966 to September 1971 and ex-officio chief of Al-Badr.
He masterminded the formation of the militia that unleashed terror on peace-loving Bangalees, killed unarmed civilians, raped women and destroyed properties during the 1971 Liberation War.
Towards the end of the war, the Al-Badr Bahini committed “crimes of serious gravity intending to demean the human civilization.” Instead of being punished for his heinous crimes, Nizami was rehabilitated to the country after 1975.
He gained immense political clout and even became a minister during the BNP-led 4-party government’s tenure between 2001 and 2006. But justice caught up with him in October 2014 when the ICT-1 sentenced him to death for war crimes, and the Supreme Court (SC) on January 6 this year upheld the death penalty.
On May 5, a four-member SC bench headed by Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha dismissed a petition filed by Nizami seeking review for his death sentence, paving the way for the execution of the verdict.
The three other judges of the bench were Justice Nazmun Ara Sultana, Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain and Justice Hasan Foez Siddique. In its full verdict, the apex court said Nizami has “impliedly admitted” his involvement in the crimes against humanity in 1971. It said Nizami was found guilty on five charges, but he sought review of three charges on which he was given the death penalty.
“We would like to observe here that the petitioner [Nizami] has not taken any exception as regards to his conviction and sentence with respect to charge Nos. 7 and 8, on which charges, he was also found guilty for his direct participation in the killing of Sohrab of Brishalikh and also instigating to kill Bodi, Rumi, Jewel and Azad at old MP Hostel, Nakhalpara,” the SC said.
“Therefore, the petitioner’s involvement and complicity in the perpetration of offences of crimes against humanity and genocide have been impliedly admitted by the accused,” the apex court added in its verdict. “More so, in view of the submission of the learned counsel to commute the sentence, the petitioner cannot dispute his involvement in those offences,” the court said.
Earlier, on January 6, a four-member bench of the Appellate Division, headed by the chief justice, upheld the ICT order sentencing Nizami to death.
On 6 January, a four-member bench of the Appellate Division, headed by the chief justice, upheld the death sentence for the Jamaat ameer.
The Appellate Division upheld the ICT order sentencing Nizami to death.
The International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) had ordered hanging of Nizami on October 29, 2014, for murders and rapes in Pabna and mass killing of intellectuals during the War of Independence.
The apex court upheld death sentence but acquitted him from three charges for insufficient evidence.
Out of the 16 charges levelled by the prosecution, the war crimes tribunal found Nizami guilty on eight counts.
SC’s appeals verdict acquitted him from charges 1, 3 and 4 while upheld sentences awarded by the tribunal on charges 2, 6, 7, 8 and 16.
The top court upheld the tribunal’s death sentences for charges 2, 6 and 16, which found him guilty of aiding and abetting the Pakistani forces in the killings of almost 450 people and raping of 30 to 40 women at the four villages in Pabna and orchestrating the killings of intellectuals using his vigilante milita, Al- Badr.
The tribunal had given Nizami the death penalty for charge 4, in which he was accused of murdering nine people, rape and loot at Pabna’s Karamja village.
The appeals verdict acquitted him from the charges. In charges 1, 3, 7 and 8, the war crimes tribunal found the Jamaat chief guilty of abduction, torture, murder, and conspiring and executing crime against humanity. It had ordered life imprisonment.
In 1971, Nizami was the chief of Islami Chhatra Sangha, then student wing of Jamaat. He also headed the Al-Badr militia created by the Pakistan army to suppress the Bengali rebellion.
The previous judgment had referred to his key role in the Razakar force and the Peace Committee, all working to suppress the Bengali rebellion.
The Al-Badr brigade had gone on a genocidal rampage to cleanse the Bengali nation-in-the-making of its best intellectuals, the lifeblood of secular Bengali nationalism that undermined Pakistan’s founding principles. When the verdict was pronounced, 72-year old Nizami was in Gazipur’s Kashimpur jail.
This former Industry minister was also given the death penalty in 2014 for arms trafficking in Chittagong’s sensational 10-truck arms haul case. Nizami’s verdict is the sixth war crimes case judged by the apex court after the war crimes tribunal was set up in 2010. Nizami filed an appeal with the SC on 23 November 2014 challenging the death sentence and claimed himself innocent and sought to be cleared of the charges.
Life in brief
1943: Born in Sathia upazila at Pabna.
1966: Became head of Islamic Chhatro Shango (ICS)
1967: Graduated from Dhaka University
1971: Oppose liberation war and organised Al Badre force to help Pakistan army
1978: Returned Bangladesh and revived Jamaat
1988: Became Secretary General of Jamaat
1991: Elected MP from Pabna-1
2000: Elected Ameer of Jamaat
2001: Became Agriculture minister of BNP led 4-party alliance govt
Jun 29, 2010: Arrested
May 28, 2012: Indicted in war crimes charges
Nov 13, 2013: Trial begins
Oct 29, 2014: Tribunal sentence death penalty
Jan 06, 2016: SC upholds death sentence
May 05, 2016: SC dismisses review