Dhaka, Feb 2: The International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) on Tuesday sentenced Obaidul Haque Taher and Ataur Rahman Noni of Netrakona to death for their crimes against humanity during the War of Liberation in 1971.
A three-member tribunal bench, headed by Justice Mohammad Anwarul Haque, delivered the verdict.
Earlier, the judges started to read out the verdict at about 10:00am.
The accused, Taher and Nani, were brought to the tribunal at about 9:00am from Dhaka central jail by a prison van.
On January10, closing the law-point arguments from both sides in the trial, the ICT kept pending its verdicts for any day.
Freedom fighters and members of the Shahbagh Ganajagarn Mancha, gathered outside the court premises and greeted the verdict with open jubilation.
Celebratory processions also hit the streets in various parts of Netrokona, the district the two men belong to.
The accused duo are facing six charges, including those for mass killing, abduction, looting and arson attack, during the 1971 Liberation War.
In compliance with the tribunal order, police arrested Taher and Nani from Netrakona on August 12, 2015.
One joins BNP, other becomes footballer
According to the chargesheet, Taher is the son of Monjurul Haq, a resident of Shunoi in the Aatparha Upazila of Netrokona district. He was born on January 1, 1950.
He joined the Nezami Islami Party after getting his B.Com degree.
He opposed Bangladesh’s freedom struggle and joined the Razakar troops, a vigilante force formed to help the Pakistani occupation army.
He soon became the commander of its Netrokona unit.
Before his arrest in 2014, Taher ran a business in Netrokona town’s Teri Bazar and was a BNP follower, the prosecution said.
The other war criminal, Ataur Rahman Noni, belongs to the same district. He is the son of the late Ahuzan Ali, aka Azan Ali, who was a resident of Kachandra in the Kendua Upazila.
Noni’s Secondary School Certificate records his date of birth as July 7, 1956 but his National Identity Card has it as August 8, 1958.
The trial revealed that Noni, a post-1971 footballer of the municipal town, joined the Razakar under Taher’s leadership and took part in several war crimes.
Noni ran his own business in Netrokona town’s Moktar Bazar before his arrest.
“During the war in 1971, he was only 19 but took part in several crimes against humanity,” the chargesheet states.
Taher and Noni’s cases reached the International Crimes Tribunal after Netrokona freedom fighter Ali Reza Kanchan filed a case in 2010 against them and 10 others, accusing them of perpetrating war crimes.
The prosecution began investigating them on June 6, 2013, and filed a 63-page report on November 5, 2014.
Netrokona police arrested them on August 12, 2014, hours after the special court issued warrants for the two. The next day, they were sent to jail.
On December 11 that year, the court admitted the charges levelled against them. They were indicted on six charges on March 2 last year, and the trial began.
Witness deposition started on April 5, 2015, during which altogether 23 people testified.
On January 11 this year, the tribunal concluded the trial and kept its verdict pending.
Lawyers Mokhlesur Rahman Badal and Sabina Yasmmin Khan Munni represented the prosecution during the court proceedings while Abdus Sobhan Tarafdar and Gazi MH Tamim represented the defendants.