Hearing in SQC charges endsStaff Correspondent
The International Crimes Tribunal on Monday posted for March 13 the pronouncement of its order on all applications filed by the detained Bangladesh Nationalist Party lawmaker Salauddin Quader Chowdhury.
The tribunal, instituted for the trial of 1971 war crimes, set the date after concluding the hearing on the indictment of Salauddin, also a BNP standing committee member, and a number of the applications he had filed.
Salauddin filed the applications seeking his discharge
from the case, review of the tribunal’s order that had rejected his application for adhering to international covenants and standards, bail, release and transfer to any other jail.
After the disposal of Salauddin’s application seeking his discharge from the case, the tribunal will set a date for the pronouncement of its order on framing charges against him, the tribunal chairman, Justice Nizamul Huq, said.
In his concluding arguments, defence counsel Ahsanul Huq Hena said that prosecutor Zead-Al-Malum had spoken ‘magnificently’ but failed to address a number of points raised by the defence.
He argued that the tribunal might adjourn the proceedings for a week asking the prosecution to furnish information on the latest position of the six cases filed in 1972 against Salauddin for which charges had been pressed against him in the present case.
The tribunal said that it was hearing arguments on the framing of charges and at this stage it could just examine whether there was any prima facie case for trial.
Even after the framing of charges on the six counts along with others, the tribunal can exclude the counts at any time if the defence can establish their ground of double-jeopardy.
Ahsanul argued that the defence should have filed the documents relating to the latest status of the six cases as they had submitted the documents relating to the cases.
Malum, however, argued that the prosecution was not legally obliged to submit the documents on the six cases which were not before the tribunal right now as no documentary evidence had yet been disclosed.
The tribunal said that prosecution witness Profulla, in his statement, stated that a case had been filed against Salauddin for killing his father Natun Chandra Singha, the founder of Kundeshwari Oushadhalaya, and a writ petition was filed in 1973 regarding the case.
Malum replied that Natun’s son Satya Ranjan Saha had filed the writ petition challenging a decision of the ‘Chittagong district scrutiny committee’ and the writ petition was rejected in 1979.
Earlier in the day, defence counsel Fakhrul Islam wrapped up his arguments being asked by the tribunal time and again as he stumbled along apparently prolonging his submissions.
He argued that the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act 1973 had been enacted for trying the combatants only and it was amended in 2009 bringing non-combatant individuals under its ambit.
Salauddin cannot be tried under the 1973 act as the amendment could not have retrospective effect as it was a substantive law.
Citing the decision of the Appellate Division in the presidential reference on the BDR rebellion, Fakhrul argued that the Appellate Division had said BDR mutineers could not be tried under the army act even after amending the act bringing under its ambit the Bangladesh Rifles, now renamed as Border Guard Bangladesh.
The tribunal said that the 1973 act had been enacted with a retrospective effect and all international tribunals dealing with similar crimes had been formed under the laws having retrospective effects.
Fakhrul replied the act had been enacted with a retrospective effect but the bill passed by the parliament amending the act stated that it would come into effect immediately.
Opposing the defence contention, Malum argued that it was a question of the constitutionality of the act and the tribunal had no jurisdiction to deal with such questions.
The Appellate Division’s decision on the BDR rebellion would not be applicable to the present case as the two cases were not similar, the prosecutor said.
The prosecution on January 15 proposed the indictment of Salauddin on 77 counts of genocide and crimes against humanity committed during the war of independence in 1971.
Malum pressed the charges citing 25 incidents, many of them taking place from April 13, 1971, when Salauddin allegedly attacked, abducted, tortured and killed a number of the Hindus in Chittagong.
The prosecution pressed charges against Salauddin under nine types of offences, including 15 counts of genocide, 11 counts of torture, 10 counts of confinement, 9 counts of abduction, 7 counts of deportation, 8 counts of murder, 8 counts of persecution, 8 counts of bodily harming, and 1 count of rape.
On November 14, 2011, the prosecution submitted the formal charges against Salauddin of crimes against humanity, genocide and abetment in committing such crimes on 24 counts of murder, rape, arson and robbery.
On November 17, 2011, the tribunal took cognisance of the charges.
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