War-time terror of Chittagong Salauddin Quader Chowdhury will have to hang after the Supreme Court in the final verdict has confirmed the death penalty of the war crimes tribunal.
The four-member appeals bench led by Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha delivered the final verdict at 9:03am on Wednesday.
The judgment was greeted with huge relief in and outside the courtroom.
Many had their doubts about the death sentence being upheld following a report in a foreign media over an alleged meeting between Chowdhury’s family and the chief justice.
The three other judges of the bench were Justice Nazmun Ara Sultana, Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain and Justice Hasan Foez Siddique.
Ever at the centre of controversy with his remarks and actions, Chowdhury is the first BNP leader to be walking the gallows for atrocities during the 1971 War of Independence from Pakistan.
He is the second former minister to have the death sentence upheld after Jamaat-e-Islami’s Ali Ahsan Muhammad Mujahid.
During the trial, it was described how Muslim League leader Fazlul Quader Chowdhury’s son Salauddin Quader Chowdhury killed Hindus and Awami League men in a large-scale during the War against Pakistan.
The International Crimes Tribunal-1 sentenced him to death on Oct 1, 2013, for murdering Kundeshwari Oushadhalaya owner Nutan Chandra Singha, genocide of Hindus at Sultanpur and Unsattar Parha, and abduction and murder of a Hathazari Awami League leader and his son Sheikh Alamgir.
The Appellate Division has now confirmed the tribunal’s verdict after a year and nine months.
Chowdhury is the fifth to get a verdict on the appeal against the tribunal’s judgment. He was at Kashimpur Jail in Gazipur.
What happens now
In line with the rules, the Supreme Court will now publish the full verdict and send it to the tribunal, which will then issue the death warrant.
After getting the warrant, the jail authorities will read it out to Chowdhury.
The defence will get the chance to file a review petition within 15 days from the publication of the full verdict.
The court will agree to rethink the ruling only if it doubts the verdict’s ‘reliability’ or if there are chances of a miscarriage of justice.
But the review will never be equated to an appeal, the court said in the review verdict of Jamaat’s Abdul Quader Molla.
Once the review petition is resolved and the death sentence is upheld, the war crimes convict will have the opportunity to seek mercy from the president and meet family members.
If Chowdhury is denied pardon or if he declines to appeal for his life, the government will execute the convict through the jail authorities.
This procedure was followed during the execution of Jamaat leaders Molla and Mohammad Kamaruzzaman.
The 9 charges on which Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury was found guilty are :
Charge no 2-- Salahuddin along with several others accompanied the Pakistani army that raided Madhya Gohira Hindu Parha in Raozan. Pakistani army opened fire killing Poncha Bala Sharma, Sunil Sharma, Jyoti Lal Sharma, and Dulal Sharma on the spot and Dr Makhon Lal Sharma died after several days from wounds sustained during the attacks.
Another victim, Jayanta Kumar Sharma, was alive for some years, handicapped.
According to the tribunal, the acts of murder and injury committed in order to destroy the members of Hindu religious group in whole or in part fall under the category of genocide.
Charge No 3-- He was accused of killing Kundeshwari Oushadhalaya owner and social worker Nutan Chandra Singha of Raozan’s Gohira on Apr 13. Killing of unarmed Singha has been termed a crime against humanity.
Charge no 4--- He was accused of planning, complicity, genocide, loot, arson, and deportation. He had led a group of accomplices along with Pakistan Army and raided Jogot Mollo Parha on April 13. Two of his accomplices had gone to the Hindus there and asked them to attend a peace meeting. They were fired upon when they gathered in the courtyard of Kiron Bikash Chowdhury’s house.
As many as 32 people were killed at the time while three others survived with injuries. Later the house was looted and set on fire. The survivors later fled to India.
Charge no 5-- He was accused of genocide and arson as crimes against humanity. He had led the Pakistani Army to Banik Parha at Sultanpur village at Raozan at noon on Apr 13, 1971. They had opened fire on the unarmed civilian Hindus there and murdered four.
Charge no 6--- He led the Pakistani troops to attack Unsattar Parha at Raozan in the afternoon same day. They gathered the Hindus of the locality for a peace meeting and following a pre-arranged plan to open fire on the people. Altogether 70 were murdered, of whom 50 people were identified and the rest were unknown.
One Januti Bala Pal was shot in the waist, but survived. She and the rest of the Hindus had fled the country and taken shelter in India as refugee.
Charges of genocide and deportation have been brought against Chowdhury in this count.
Charge no 7--- Salahuddin was accused of crimes against humanity which includes complicity in murder of Satish Chandra Palit on Apr 14, burning his house and deportation of his family.
Charge no 8--- He had direct complicity in abduction and murder of Awami League leader Sheikh Mozaffar Ahmed and his son Sheikh Alamgir on Apr 17.
Charge no 17--- He was accused of abduction, confinement and torture.On Jul 5, 1971 he had abducted Nizamuddin Ahmed, Shiraj and Wahid alias Junu Pagla and took them to Goods Hill. They were abused, tortured and interrogated and later taken to Chittagong stadium where 10/12 others were being held. Junu was released while Ahmed and Shiraj were confined until Bangladesh won freedom.
Charge no 18-- He was accused of confinement, abduction and torture of Md Salahuddin at his Goods Hill residence in the third week of July, 1971.