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Dhaka , Oct 1 : A war crime court here today handed down death penalty to main opposition BNP lawmaker and minister for two terms Salauddin Quader Chowdhury on charges of "crimes against humanity" during the 1971 Liberation War .
Salauddin Quader Chowdhury better know as Saka Chowdhury will be hanged for genocide and deadly torture of Hindus and Awami Leaguers in Chittagong area when Bengalees fighting for independence in 1971. Chowdhury sided with the Pakistani forces in carrying out atrocities on innocent people and minorities..
Justice A.T.M Fazle Kabir, chairman of the three- member panel of The International Crimes Tribunal (ICT)-1 , delivered the verdict in a crowded courtroom during noon amid high security. "He will be hanged by neck till he is dead," pronounced Justice Kabir as Chowdhury listened in the dock after being brought to court under heavy security escorts from Dhaka Central Jail.
This is the 7th verdict delivered by the tribunal ( ICT ) since the first verdict announced in February this year in the trial of major war crimes suspects most of whom belong to Jamaat-e-Islami, principal ally of BNP
Salauddin Quader Chowdhury’s wife has said the death sentence given to her husband by the International Crimes Tribunal will be challenged in court.“I know that we won’t get justice,” said Farhat Quader Chowdhury. “But we will go though the entire process. We will file an appeal and see who are there to judge it.”
A flamboyant showman now in his mid sixties, Salauddin Quader Chowdhury sixth time law maker is the first sitting MP and a key BNP figure convicted of unleashing a reign of terror crimes that convulsed Raozan, Boalkhali, Hathazari and Chittagong City during the war and cast a dark shadow on survivors, He reportedly forced many minority Hindu become Muslim.
The 172-page verdict said the nine of the total 23 charges that were framed against the errant lawmaker which included genocide, murder, torture, and deportation were proved beyond any shadow of doubt . Of them four of the charges earned him the capital punishment. These four charges included genocide, murder and abduction. He was also handed down a total of 70-year imprisonment for various other charges .
All the three members of the Judges' panel took part in reading out the verdict one after another while the tribunal chair pronounced the operative part of the judgement.
His wife and children were present in the court when the verdict was delivered. Wearing white kurta-pajama, Chowdhury was seen smiling and talking with his family members during the entire time of the pronouncement of the verdict, witness said .
Son of Pakistan's former Speaker of National Assembly Fazlul Quader Chowdhury , Salauddin Chowdhury was arrested on December 16,2010 indicted on April 4, 2012, on 23 charges of crimes against humanity. One media reporting magnetite of his crime said , Chowdhury was involved in killings of 200 people including 111 Hindus on April 13, 1971.
Terming Salauddin Chowdhury as "Rasputin" of 1971, Prosecutor Dr Tureen Afroz in the closing arguments sought death penalty saying he ( Chowdhury) is such an accused, who participated actively in all the crimes for which charges were framed.
The defence however tried frantically to prove that their high-profile client was outside of the country during the time of the occurrence. Like in the past in the last moment of their arguments, the defence also tried to raise the questions upon the jurisdiction of this tribunal and the act, by which the tribunal is being governed. A total of 41 witnesses including the investigation officer have testified against him whereas four witnesses including Chowdhury vouched in his support before the tribunal.
. The trial began three years ago in line with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's ruling Awami League's election pledge made in December 2008.
Except Saka Chowdhury all the six persons convicted by ICT belong to Jamaat .
Though senior BNP leader Moudud Ahmed has lambasted the International Crimes Tribunal's verdict of death penalty for party lawmaker Salauddin Quader Chowdhury, the main opposition is yet to formally react. Ahmed told a pro-BNP lawyers forum that the verdict was a travesty of justice and the due process of law was not observed.
However Chittagong branch of BNP announced dawn to dusk hartal in the city tomorrow as it rejected the verdict.
Two vehicles were set ablaze in the capital following announcement of verdict against BNP leader Salauddin Quader Chowdhury to death for crimes against humanity during 1971 , while masked miscreants set fire to a human-hauler minutes after the opposition BNP’s Chittagong chapter called a strike in the division, protesting the sentencing of party leader Salauddin Quader Chowdhury to death.. According to witnesses, a group of six/seven masked men set a bus ablaze on Station Road in the Kotwali Police Station around 2:30 P M.