Abdul Quader Mullah

25.04.2016 ( Last modified: 03.06.2016 )
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facts

Abdul Quader Mullah was born in in 1948 in Amirabad, Bangladesh. In 1975 he obtained a degree in education and after that a master in educational administration from the University of Daca.

As one of the leaders of Islamic party Jamaat-e-Islami, Quader Mullah played an active role in the war for the independence of Bangladesh, which took place in 1971. During the war he was known as the “butcher of Mirpur” (Mirpur is in the suburbs of Daca, the region where Quader Mullah is accused of having committed many atrocities).

When, in 1971, Bangladesh gained independence, the political party of Jammat-e-Islami was forbidden from participating in the new government. Meanwhile, in 1975, after the assassination of President Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the coup d’état that followed, the party Jamaat-e-Islami was reinstated by the new government in chief. Quader Mullah became active in the party and in 2010 was named assistant of the general secretary of the party.

During the war of 1971, Quader Mullah was part of Rajakar’s pro-Pakistany army. He was accused of having committed many crimes, in particular rapes (including against minors), as well as mass murders of civilians and indiscriminate attacks in the Murpur and Dacca regions. As a member of the Rajakar armi, Quader Mullah was accused of killing 344 civilians. Quader Mullah and the pro-Pakistani armies tortured and killed dozens of doctors, journalists and teachers as well as many more civilians in the regions of Daca and Mirpur.

legal procedure

During the war of 1971, Quader Mullah was part of Rajakar’s pro-Pakistany army. He was accused of having committed many crimes, in particular rapes (including against minors), as well as mass murders of civilians and indiscriminate attacks in the Murpur and Dacca regions. As a member of the Rajakar armi, Quader Mullah was accused of killing 344 civilians. Quader Mullah and the pro-Pakistani armies tortured and killed dozens of doctors, journalists and teachers as well as many more civilians in the regions of Daca and Mirpur.

In 2009 the International Crimes Tribunal was set up: its mission was to judge and condemn war criminals who served during the 1971 independence war. This court stirred up controversy and was often accused of conducting a “witch-hunt” against the members of Jamaat-e-Islami party. Nevertheless it remained the only judiciary authority capable of judging those war criminals who had served during the 1971 conflict.

In February 2013, the trial chamber of the International Crimes Tribunal sentenced Quader Mullah to life imprisonment. He was mainly accused of committing rapes, torture, the assassination of hundreds of civilians and indiscriminate attacks.

After the sentence and the appeal of the convicted, the Supreme Court increasedAbdul Quader Mullah’s penalty and sentenced him to death in 2012. Only the presidential pardon could have saved him. It was the first time a leader of the Islamic party was sentenced to death.

The 12 December 2013, Abdul Quader Mullah was hanged. The Supreme Court rejected his last appeal and confirmed the sentencing of the death penalty. This was the first death sentence handed down by the controversial International Crimes Tribunal.

context

THE 1971 BANGLADESH LIBERATION WAR

The 1947 partition of India resulted in the emergence of the country of Pakistan out of two territories: West Pakistan (today’s Pakistan) and East Pakistan (today’s Bangladesh). As a response to the Awami League victory in the 1970 general elections, the Pakistan Army launched Operation Searchlight on 25 March 1971, a massive military operation designed to curb the nationalist movement in East Pakistan. The armed conflict became known as the “Liberation War” and lasted until 16 December 1971.

The conflict involved widespread killings and other atrocities –forced displacement, disappearances, destruction and confiscation of property, torture and sexual violence– carried out by the Pakistan Army with the assistance of religious and political groups from East and West Pakistan. The exact number of victims of the conflict is not established. Bangladeshi authorities claim that 3 million people were killed while a Pakistan Government investigation states the figure of 26,000. The conflict also led to a major humanitarian crisis, with eight to ten millions refugees fleeing to India. Sexual violence was allegedly used as a weapon of war, with an estimated 200.000 women victims of rape.

INTERNATIONAL CRIMES TRIBUNAL ACT (ICTA)

On 20 June 1973, the ICTA was adopted to provide for the prosecution of any persons for “crimes against humanity, genocide, crimes against peace, war crimes, violation of any humanitarian rules and any other crimes under international law” committed in Bangladesh. The ICTA, using the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal Charter as a template, was to serve as a basis for a national tribunal.

However, efforts ended with the military coup of 1975. The new regime also repealed the 1972 Collaborator’s Act, which had been designed to bring to account those who had collaborated with the Pakistan Army. As a result, prosecutions of “collaborators” who did not fall under the 30 November 1973 amnesty were stopped, and all those detained and convicted were pardoned and released.

INTERNATIONAL CRIMES TRIBUNAL (ICT)

In 2008, the ICTA was resuscitated in the election manifesto of the Awami League. In 2009, the elected Awami League government adopted a resolution to initiate the establishment of a civilian court, which led to the 2009 amendment of the ICTA. In March 2010, the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) was set up and its Rules of Procedure were adopted on 15 July 2010.

The ICT has generated criticism from the international community, including the UN Working Group on arbitrary detention, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the US Ambassador-at-large for War Crimes Issues. This criticism mainly addresses the lack of fair trial standards. The European Union has also voiced its concern with regards to the potential application of the death penalty.

LIMITATIONS TO THE TRIAL OF INTERNATIONAL CRIMES

Several legislative and executive orders granted immunity to groups involved in the 1971 Liberation War. In February 1973, shortly before the ICTA, the Bangladesh National Liberation Struggle (Indemnity) Order granted immunity to all freedom fighters for acts committed in connection with the “Liberation Struggle”. On 30 November 1973, a general amnesty was declared for all Bangladesh citizens who had collaborated with the Pakistan Army, with the exception of those accused of murder, rape, arson or genocide. Finally, the early 1974 tripartite agreement organised the return of Pakistani prisoners of wars, including those accused of committing war crimes, without charging them.

The ICTA was, however, never repealed. It provides for the prosecution of Bangladeshi nationals who were not granted immunity for international crimes committed during the Liberation War.