Dhaka: A special Bangladeshi tribunal today handed down death penalty to an influential leader of the main opposition BNP party for committing “crimes against humanity” during 1971 liberation war by siding with Pakistani troops.
“He (Salauddin Quader Chowdhury) will be hanged by neck till he is dead,” pronounced chairman of the three-member panel of International Crimes Tribunal-1 at the crowded courtroom, concluding the judgment which took them more than two-and-half hours to be delivered along with observations.
The panel said nine out of 23 charges against 65-year-old Chowdhury, who was present at the courtroom along with family members, were proved beyond doubt while he was handed down the capital punishment for four of the charges.
Witnesses said Chowdhury called the verdict “a pre-determined judgment” while the relatives too joined him in passing ridiculing comments as the judges were delivering the abridged version of the 172-page verdict by rotation.
The verdict comes 17 months after the high-powered tribunal indicted Chowdhury on 23 specific charges of crimes against humanity committed along with Pakistani troops.
Chodwdhury is one of the two leaders of Bangladesh Nationalist Party led by former prime minister Khaleda Zia to be tried for 1971 war crimes, but the main opposition party was yet to express any reaction on his trial or the verdict.
The charges against him include killing directly around 200 people; collaborating with the Pakistani army to kill and torture unarmed people; looting of valuables and torching of houses and other properties; persecuting people on religious and political grounds.