Hearing on Islamist party chief’s review delayed in Bangladesh

Dhaka, April 10 (IANS) Bangladesh’s apex court on Sunday deferred till May 3 the hearing on the review petition filed by war criminal — and chief of the country’s largest Islamist party — Motiur Rahman Nizami, who remains in prison for war crimes in 1971.

The Supreme Court of Bangladesh has set May 3 as the next date for hearing after the defence pleaded for more time, Xinhua reported.

Nizami, chief of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, on March 29 filed an appeal with the court against his death sentence for war crimes during the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971.

Bangladesh’s Supreme Court on January 6 upheld a death penalty for Nizami, 73, over war crimes during the country’s war of independence 45 years ago.

Bangladesh’s International Crimes Tribunal-1 issued Nizami’s death warrant on March 16 hours after the court released its full verdict.

If his review petition is rejected, the last option for him will be to seek presidential mercy.

Nizami’s party had earlier claimed that the government filed ill-motivated, baseless cases against its top leaders in order to make the party leaderless.

Nizami, who served as agriculture and industries minister in ex-Prime Minister Khaleda Zia’s 2001-2006 cabinet, is among the top Jamaat leaders who have been tried in two war crimes tribunals.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasian’s Bangladesh Awami League-led government formed the tribunals in 2010 to bring the perpetrators of 1971 to book.

Three Jamaat leaders, Abdul Quader Molla, Muhammad Kamaruzzaman and Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid, have been executed.

Apart from them, Jamaat secretary general Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid and opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) leader Salaudin Quader Chowdhury were executed on November 22 last year.

Both BNP and Jamaat have dismissed the court as a government “show trial”, saying it is a domestic set-up without the oversight or involvement of the UN.

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