Sayedee to hang

Ref: The first war crimes tribunal on Thursday sentenced Jamaat-e-Islami leader Delwar Hossain Sayedee to death for his war crimes during the 1971 Liberation war.

The verdict brings the first and perhaps the most sensational war crimes case to an end after 16 months since the charges were framed.

Sayedee to hang

Sayedee to hang

He was indicted on 20 charges on Oct 3, 2011 , several months before the other Jamaat leaders facing trial. He was arrested and brought before the tribunal for the first time on Nov 2, 2010, nearly a year before the indictment.

The three-member International Crimes Tribunal-1, was set up to try crimes against humanity during the 1971 Liberation War, on Mar 25, 2010.

Sayedee, with his trademark hennaed beard, is famous across Bangladesh and abroad for religious sermons and his case, the first at the tribunal, has been the subject of much attention .

In the tribunal, the orders passed in this case settled precedents for other cases at both the war crimes tribunals. The second tribunal was set up to expedite war crimes trials on Mar 23, 2012.

One of the largest Islamist parties in the sub-continent, Jamaat is now facing the heat in Bangladesh, with almost its entire top leadership behind the bars and up on the docks on war crimes charges.

Those facing trial include the party’s former chief, its current chief, the secretary general and an assistant secretary general.

One assistant secretary general, Abdul Quader Molla, was sentenced to life for his war crimes on Feb 5 this year which sparked off mass protests demanding the death penalty.

Since his arrest, the tribunal disposed of a number of bail petitions. Responding to a prayer by Sayedee’s counsel, the court directed the authorities to ensure better treatment of the accused in the hospital and for providing him with “health friendly” transport during his movement between the jail, the tribunal and the hospital.

The prosecution proposed formal charges on Jul 11, 2011 alleging that Sayedee was a member and leader of the local Razakar unit, a vigilante militia, committed crimes against humanity. The tribunal took cognisance of the charges on Jul 14, 2011.

The prosecution’s case is that Sayedee was a minor road side vendor at Parerhat before the Liberation War when he was known by the surname of Shikdar. He however, became a member of the local Peace Committee, an infamous social platform mobilised centrally by right wing political parties opposed to Bangladesh’s independence.

Sayedee came to prominence, apparently, because of his fluency in Urdu and went on to lead the local Razakar units on a number of raids.

Soon after the war, Sayedee went into hiding fearing reprisals by freedom fighters , only to emerge much later with a change surname .

Sayedee’s 20 charges include genocide, murder, rape, arson, loot and persecution.

The defence, however, argues that this is a case of mistaken identity saying that the notorious Delwar Hossain Shikdar had been apprehended and executed by freedom fighters after the war.

Sayedee, the man being charged, the defence says, used to reside in Jessore during and before 1971 and was even then engaged in giving sermons.

He, and his family, had fled Jessore looking for safety and stayed for about two weeks at the house of a ‘Peer’ for about two weeks from around Apr 1, 1971. Thereafter the Sayedee family took refuge in another village, Mohiron, under Bagharpara in Jessore at one Roushan Ali’s house.

The Sayedee family, the defence argues, stayed there for two months and a half. They then went to their village home.

The Jamaat leader has lost his eldest son and his mother during the trial. He himself suffered a heart attack as well, on his return from Rafique Sayedee’s funeral. The following surgery, administering three stents, forced him to stay away from the trial for almost a month around mid-2012.

There have been 28 witnesses for the prosecution and 16 for the defence. Additionally the tribunal received 16 witness statements given to the investigator after the prosecution argued that those witnesses were either dead, or that producing them before the tribunal would incur unreasonably delay or expenditure.

The investigator, an additional superintendent of police, Mohammad Helal Uddin was grilled for almost 50 days between Apr 8 and Aug 13 last year. The investigator first deposed for eight days and then faced cross-examination for more than 40 days.

Together with his deposition and cross-examination the court recorded a little less than 153,000 words, enough to fill 38 pages of broadsheet newspaper. – See more at:

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