‘War Crimes convicts can file review petitions against verdict’

The Appellate Division has ruled that both the prosecution and the condemned 1971 war criminals may enjoy the right to file review petitions against its verdict within the 15 days of receiving its certified copy.   It, however, said the review petition should be disposed of on priority basis.
The apex court came up with the observations while releasing its judgment in its website on Tuesday that dismissed two review petitions as it found no merit in the pleas filed by Jamaat-e-Islami leader Abdul Quader Mollah, a collaborator of the Pakistan occupation army, (executed).
“The review petitions are maintainable. A review petition should not be equated with an appeal. In criminal matters, the power of review must be limited to an error which has a material, real ground on the face of the case,” observed the SC.
On September 17 last year, the Appellate Division sentenced the Jamaat leader to death for his 1971 crimes against humanity allowing the appeal filed by the prosecution against the February 5, 2013 International Crimes Tribunal-2 verdict that had handed down life term imprisonment.
The condemned convict was executed on December 12 last year after the SC had summarily dismissed his review petitions.
If any review or mercy petition is filed or pending, the apex court observed that the sentence cannot be executed unless the petitions are disposed of. “So, the period of seven days or 21 days mentioned in sub-rules (I) and (VI) of rule 991 of the Jail Code have no force of law under the changed conditions.”
The SC observation further said the period of limitation provided in the Appellate Division rules will not be applicable in respect of a review petition from a judgment on appeal under the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act 1973.
Following the release of the apex court judgment on Quader Mollah’s review, another condemned war criminal convict Jamaat leader M Kanmaruzzaman, a 1971 operator of Al Badr, a secret killing squad of Jamaat-e-Islami, now on the death row, will get the opportunity to file review petition accordingly.

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