The prosecution has expressed its frustration over the life-term sentence handed to fugitive Jatiya Party leader Abdul Jabbar for crimes against humanity during the Liberation War.
“We will have to respect the court’s decision, but we were expecting a death sentence,” Prosecutor Jahid Imam said after the verdict on Tuesday. Bangladesh’s first war crimes tribunal, headed by Justice Enayetur Rahim, delivered the verdict against Pirojpur’s Mathbarhia Razakar militia leader Abdul Jabbar, who became a member of Parliament in independent Bangladesh. The prosecution proved all the five charges brought against Jabbar beyond doubt, the three-member tribunal said. It added that they were sentencing Jabbar to life in prison taking his age into consideration.
The verdict detailed how the former Muslim League leader collaborated with the Pakistan occupation army and carried out murders, genocide, loot, arson, forced Hindus to convert to Islam and forced many of them to leave the country from Mathbarhia during the Liberation War. Jabbar’s verdict is the fourth to be delivered in absentia. He was handed life-terms on four charges and 20-year prison-term along with a Tk 10 lakh fine on one charge.
Prosecutor Turin Afroze said, “We have got two types of judgements. The court had earlier said age cannot be considered in case of such crimes.
“But the court gave its verdict taking into consideration the age of the accused. Earlier, Ghulam Azam was handed a life-term on the same ground.”
State-appointed defence lawyer Mohammad Abul Hasan said, “There would have been scope if the convict was present or if there was more information.”
He added that he repeatedly tried to contact Jabbar but did not get any response. “I will ask him to surrender if contact is made.”
“I do not have the authority to appeal against the verdict. Only the convict can appeal.”
Jabbar, believed to be an octogenarian, is currently living in the US, according to the tribunal’s investigation arm. He can challenge the verdict within a month but, for that, he will have to surrender first.