SC adjourns war crimes convict Mir Quasem’s review hearing until Sunday

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Dhaka, August 24: The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday adjourned the hearing of war crimes convict and Jamaat-e-Islami leader Mir Quasem Ali’s petition seeking a review of his death sentence until Sunday.

The court also rejected the plea of Mir Quasem’s counsel for one more month to prepare for the review hearing.

A five-member bench led by Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha began hearings on Wednesday morning.

The court adjourned the hearing right after chief defence counsel Khandker Mahbub Hossain’s opening statement.

Hossain had prayed for a month to prepare for the review hearing, but the court rejected his plea and settled on Sunday for the hearings to continue.

The other members of the bench are Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain, Justice Hasan Foez Siddique, Justice Mirza Hussain Haider and Justice Mohammad Bazlur Rahman.

An Al-Badr commander in 1971, Mir Quasem was found guilty of charges by the International Crimes Tribunal and was sentenced to death in 2014.

He challenged the verdict but in March this year, the Supreme Court upheld the death sentence.

On June 6, the apex court released the full verdict and sent it to the International Crimes Tribunal, which then issued the death warrant before forwarding it to the jail authorities.

Mir Quasem filed a petition on June 19 for a review of the top court’s verdict.

The State then moved the Supreme Court’s chamber judge to expedite the hearings, and its plea was forwarded to the appeals bench, upon which the court scheduled a hearing for July 25.

But it was deferred by a month to August 24 (Wednesday) after the defence sought time.

A review of the sentence is the last ditch attempt for the war crimes convict to save himself from the gallows.

Once it is resolved and if the death sentence is upheld, Mir Quasem will have the opportunity to seek presidential clemency.

If the Jamaat leader is denied pardon, the government will order the jail authorities to hang him.

Mir Quasem was the third most important functionary of the Al-Badr murder squad after Jamaat chief Motiur Rahman Nizami and Secretary General Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid.

Both Nizami and Mujahid have been executed upon being convicted for 1971 war crimes.