Top leader of fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami party and Bangladeshi media tycoon Mir Quasem Ali was sentenced to death on Saturday by a special war crimes court for atrocities he committed during the 1971 independence war against Pakistan, days after the party’s chief was given capital punishment on identical charges.
“He (Ali) shall be hanged by neck until he is dead,” pronounced chairman of the three-member special tribunal for war crimes, as the 62-year-old Jamaat leader looked bewildered on the dock.
Amid heavy security, the court simultaneously sentenced him to a 72-year imprisonment for several other charges.
The jail terms would be virtually infructuous since he was sentenced to death.
Emerging from the court, the lawyers said the tribunal found Ali guilty of 10 out of 14 charges while under two charges he was sentenced to death for torturing to death two juvenile freedom fighters and throwing their bodies into a river at northeastern port city of Chittagong.
The verdict came as Jamaat activists enforced the second phase of their three-day nationwide general strike which they called after the chief of Bangladesh’s largest Islamist party, Matiur Rahman Nizami was handed down the death penalty on October 29.
Nizami, 71, was sentenced to death for mass killing, rape, loot and for death of several intellectuals during the nation’s independence war against Pakistan 43 years ago.
Meanwhile, life in capital Dhaka and other major cities, remained largely normal as paramilitary Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) and elite anti-crime Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) were deployed to avoid violence similar to the one witnessed after Nizami’s sentencing.
Who is he?
# Mir Quasem Ali is amember of Jamaat-e-Islami’s highest policy making body & one of the party’s top financiers
# Was a leader of Jamaat’s powerful student wing, the third in command of the infamous Gestapo-like Al-Badr militia
# Heads Diganta Media Corporation which owns a pro-Jamaat daily and a television station
# Accused of running a makeshift torture camp at a hotel in Chittagong where hundreds of people — freedom fighters and their supporters — were killed.
# Tortured to death two juvenile freedom fighters and threw their bodies into a river, for which he was given death