New York, Nov 9:
The death sentence against Mohammed Kamaruzzman, convicted of war crimes, should immediately be stayed, international NGO Human Rights Watch said Sunday.
Kamaruzzaman, a leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) party, was originally arrested in July 2010 on the orders of the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT), a specially constituted court set up to prosecute war crimes committed during the 1971 war of liberation.
He was sentenced to death in May 2013 after the ICT found him guilty of participation in and planning of the unlawful killings of civilians in Sohagpur village in collaboration with the Pakistani army.
On Nov 3, the Supreme Court on appeal upheld the trial court’s conviction and sentence. Kamaruzzaman’s death sentence is the third in a war crimes case in less than a week.
The rights body said he should be granted a right to appeal against the sentence.
Kamaruzzaman was transferred to Dhaka Central Jail following the appeals verdict, a signal that his execution is imminent.
He and his counsel have yet to receive the full text of the final verdict, which is necessary for him to be able to lodge a petition for review of the decision within 30 days, a standard procedure in all death penalty cases.
Government officials have indicated that the execution is possible before the full verdict is issued which goes against standard policy in death penalty cases.
“Human Rights Watch opposes the death penalty in all circumstances as an irreversible, degrading, and cruel punishment,” Asia director at Human Rights Watch, Brad Adams, said.
“It is particularly problematic when proceedings do not meet fair trial standards and where the right to appeal against a death sentence by an independent court is not allowed,” Adams added.