Ghulam Azam indictment order deferred till May 2Staff Correspondent
The International Crimes Tribunal-1 on Tuesday deferred to May 2 its order on framing of charges against the detained former Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami amir Ghulam Azam.
The tribunal, also known as war crimes tribunal, set up for trial of the 1971 war crimes, deferred the order because the judges were yet to complete examination of the charges and the arguments made by the prosecution and the defence counsel.
Earlier on March 29, the tribunal had posted for April 17 its order after concluding the hearing on the indictment of the top war crimes suspect on 62 counts – six counts of conspiracy, three counts of planning, 28 counts of incitement, 24 counts of complicity and one count of murder as crime against humanity.
The tribunal of Justice Nizamul Huq, Justice Anwarul Haque and judge AKM Zahir Ahmed on the day also allowed the defence counsel to consult Ghulam Azam at the prison cell at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University.
The top war crimes suspect has been undergoing medical treatment at the prison cell since January 11, when the tribunal ordered his detention on war crimes charges.
The tribunal on January 9 took cognisance of the charges pressed by the prosecution on January 5 against Ghulam Azam, who was the Jamaat chief in 1971.
The hearing in the framing of charges began on February 15.
Proposing the indictment, the prosecution had argued that Ghulam Azam was the mastermind of the infamous auxiliary forces of the Pakistani occupation army – Razakar, Al-Badr and Al-Shams – and Peace Committees that had helped the occupation army and committed war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, crimes against peace and other offences, including murder, rape, arson and robbery, during the War of Independence in 1971.
Since he was the then chief of Jamaat and mastermind of the auxiliary forces, Ghulam Azam has personal liability for all offences committed by them in accordance with the Section 4(2) of the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act 1973, the prosecution contended.
Moving a petition seeking discharge of Ghulam Azam from the case, chief defence counsel Abdur Razzaq had argued that Peace Committee, Razakar, Al-Badr and Al-Shams were neither auxiliary forces of the Pakistani occupation army nor were they formed with men of the then Jamaat and its student organisation Islami Chhatra Sangha.
In his concluding arguments on March 29, prosecutor Zead-Al-Malum cited a statement of the then leader of the opposition in parliament, Sheikh Hasina, now the prime minister, in the house on April 16, 1992 demanding trial of Ghulam Azam and other war crimes suspects under the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act 1973.
Submitting a copy of the parliamentary proceedings on Hasina’s statement, which also contained a gazette notification issued by the then Pakistani junta, Malum argued that the gazette notification had posted top Pakistan army officers to Razakar.
It clearly shows that Razakar was an auxiliary force as it was placed under the control of the occupation army, the tribunal said. ‘Why should we get the gazette notification from Sheikh Hasina’s statement in parliament? Why could the investigation officer not supply it?’
Refuting Razzaq’s argument that Razakar, Al-Badr and Al-Shams were not formed by Jamaat, the prosecutor referred to an interview of Ghulam Azam given to a news agency a few days before his detention.
In the interview, Ghulam Azam said that they had formed the forces to ‘save the people from massacre being committed by the occupation army,’ Malum mentioned.
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