Ghulam Azam indictedStaff Correspondent
The International Crimes Tribunal-1 on Sunday indicted detained former Jamaat amir Ghulam Azam on 61 charges of crimes against humanity including murder, torture, conspiracy, planning, incitement and complicity in atrocities committed during 1971 war of independence.
The tribunal posted for June 5 the commencement of Ghulam Azam’s formal trial with the opening statement of the prosecution and recoding depositions of prosecution witnesses.
Also known as the war crimes tribunal the ICT was constituted for trying 1971 war crimes suspects.
The tribunal of Justice Nizamul Huq, Justice Anwarul Haque and Judge AKM Zahir Ahmed asked defence lawyers to submit by June 5 a list of defence witnesses, if any, along with the documents, on which they intend to rely.
Ghulam Azam, the third man to face the formal trial in a war crimes case in independent Bangladesh was in the dock and the tribunal allowed him to sit in the witness box during his indictment following a request from his chief defence counsel Abdur Razzaq.
After reading out the charges, the tribunal asked him whether he would plead
guilty, the top war crimes suspect made a brief statement saying, ‘I do not consider myself guilty of any of the charges.’
Ghulam Azam, who was the Jamaat chief in 1971, said he was not on the list of war criminals the government of Bangladesh had prepared in 1973.
A former Dhaka University Central Students Union vice-president, Ghulam Azam said, ‘I was, however, on the list of collaborators. But after releasing the principal war criminals, the government of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman declared a general amnesty. So I am pardoned.’
The tribunal did not allow him to continue as the statement of Ghulam Azam a former professor of political science at Carmichael College, Rangpur, took a political turn.
Before framing the charges, the tribunal noted the historical context of the case and noted that the order was of ‘considerable significance for the people of Bangladesh’.
The tribunal framed the charges rejecting a petition filed by Ghulam Azam seeking discharge from the case.
Rejecting the petition, the tribunal observed that a number of grounds taken by the top war crimes suspect had earlier been resolved by it in the cases against the detained amaat nayeb-e-amir Delwar Hossain Sayedee and Bangladesh Nationalist Party lawmaker Salauddin Quader Chowdhury.
Whether Ghulam Azam was a perpetrator of the offences or a mere abettor that could be decided in the trial, the tribunal said.
Ghulam Azam is the third war crimes suspect to face formal trial.
The tribunal began the first-ever trial of 1971 war crimes on November 20, 2011 with the prosecution submitting its opening statement on Sayedee, who was charged on October 3 with 20 counts of charges including genocide and crimes against humanity.
The cross-examination of the last prosecution witness and investigation officer in the case by the defence counsel is going on.
On May 3, the tribunal began the trial of the case against the Salauddin, also BNP standing committee member, with the prosecution making its opening statement. The tribunal is scheduled for today to begin the recoding of depositions of the prosecution witnesses against Salauddin, who was charged on April 4 with 23 counts of genocide, crimes against humanity, including murder, rape, arson and robbery, and complicity committed during the war of independence in 1971.
Ghulam Azam was charged for five counts of conspiracy, three counts of planning, 28 counts of incitement, 24 counts of complicity and one count of murder and torture as crimes against humanity.
He was charged with crime against humanity for killing 38 people, including the then Mohammadpur police station’s second officer sub-inspector Shiru Miah, his Anwar Kamal, also a schoolboy, and Dhaka University Bengali department student Nazrul Islam, who were detained by Razakars on October 27, 1971, when they were going to India for shelter, and were killed by Razakars at the instruction of Ghulam at Kairatala of Kasba in Brahmanbaria on Novermber 21, 1971.
The tribunal charged Ghulam Azam with conspiracy for holding meetings with martial law administrator Tikka Khan at the then Governor’s House, now Bangabhaban, on April 4, 1971 along with 11 other anti-liberation politicians and on April 6, holding a meeting of anti-liberation leaders on April 14, 1971, a meeting with the then president Aga Mohammad Yahiya Khan in Rawalpindi on June 19, 1971 and with Maulana Abul Ala Moududi on June 20 in Lahore.
Ghulam Azam was charged with planning the commission of heinous atrocities for holding meeting with Tkka Khan on April 4, 1971, forming 40-member central Citizens Peace Committee on April 9, 1971, which was renamed as Peace Committee, and for holding meeting of Peace Committee on May 4 that decided forming units of Peace Committee across the country.
He was charged with incitement for the commission of atrocities for making provocative statements in a joint statement issued on April 7, 1971, in a speech to the nation broadcasted by radio on April 10, 1971, in a statement on April 22, 1971, in addresses at a Jamaat meeting on May 12, 1971, at a meeting on May 17, 1971, at a conference in Dhaka on June 22, 1971, at a meeting of the Peace Committee on July 18, 1971, in an interview published in daily Sangram on June 22, 1971, at a rally on Dhaka University gymnasium on August 2, 1971, and at rallies at places across the country in May 1971.
The counts of charges also include holding meeting with Yahiya in Rawalpindi on December 1, 1971, addressing briefings at Jamaat office in Lahore on June 21, 1971, in Rawalpindi on June 19 before meeting Yahiya Khan, at a Karachi hotel on June 22, 1971, in Peshawar on August 26, 1971, at Jamaat office in Karachi on August 31, 1971 and in Rawalpindi on November 26, 1971, at rallies at places including in Lahore on June 20, 1971, at Kushtia Public Library on August 6, 1971, at Peshawar Town Hall on August 26, 1971, at Dhaka city Jamaat’s office at Siddikbazar on September 3, 1971, in front of Baitul Mukarram on October 16, 1971, in Rawalpindi on November 28, 1971, at the central council session of Jamaat on August 20, 1971, at receptions of two new ministers from Jamaat in mid September 1971 and on September 25, 1971 and issuing statements on different occasions.
The thrust of the charges was based on Ghulam Azam’s superior status, as the Jamaat chief in 1971, and his influence over his party men.
The tribunal on February 15 began the hearing on the framing of charges against Ghulam Azam with the prosecution reading out the formal charges.
The tribunal on January 9 took cognisance of the charges against Ghulam.
On January 5, Golam Arif Tipu submitted the fresh formal charges against Ghulam Azam.
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