WAR CRIMES TRIAL
Ghulam Azam seeks transfer of his case to ICT-2
Defence lawyers seek review of indictment orderStaff Correspondent
The formal trial of detained former Jamaat chief Ghulam Azam could not begin on Tuesday as scheduled as the defence in a petition requested the International Crimes Tribunal-1 to transfer his case to ICT-2.
In three other petitions, the defence lawyers also prayed for privileged communication with Ghulam Azam, adjournment of the proceedings against him and review of the order which framed charges against the top war crimes suspect.
Ghulam Azam’s formal trial was set to begin on Tuesday with the ICT-1 recording the opening statement of the prosecution and depositions by prosecution witnesses.
Also known as the war crimes tribunal, the ICT instituted for the trial of 1971 war crimes suspects.
The tribunal-1 of Justice Nizamul Huq, Justice Anwarul Haque and Judge AKM Zahir Ahmed ordered the authorities to allow three defence lawyers to consult Ghulam Azam without any interference from anybody between 9.30 AM and 12.30 PM on June 8.
Moving the petition seeking adjournment of the proceedings, Azam’z counsel M Tajul Islam submitted that the defence was yet to get prepared for the trial proceedings.
Rejecting the petition, the tribunal said the defence would get enough time for preparation, as its petitions would be heard first and then the prosecution would make its opening statement before recording the depositions of the prosecution witnesses.
Moving the petition seeking the transfer of Ghulam Azam’s case to the ICT-2, chief defence counsel Abdur Razzaq submitted that ICTl-1 chairman Justice Nizamul Huq should not hold the trial as he had involvement with the issues of the case.
He submitted that the verdict given by a ‘People’s Court’ held by Ekattorer Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee on March 26, 1992, found Ghulam Azam guilty of committing offences which warranted death sentence.
Razzaq submitted that at a meeting held on April 10, 1992, Sammilita Ainjibi Samannay Parishad, a lawyers’ platform, demanded legal action from the government to execute the verdict of the Peoples’ Court, as reported by Bangla daily Sangbad on April 11, 1992.
Razzaq also submitted that Justice Nizamul Huq was a party to the verdict of the Peoples’ Court, as he was present at the meeting.
A petition filed earlier by another war crimes suspect detained Jamaat nayeb-e-amir Delwar Hossain Sayedee, now under trial, also sought the recusal of Justice Nizamul Huq on the same ground.
The two other judges of the tribunal — Justice ATM Fazle Kabir and Judge AKM Zahir Ahmed — on November 14, 2011 disposed of the petition with the observation that they had no authority to pass an order on the recusal of a co-judge and ‘the matter largely depends on the good conscience of the judge concerned.’
The three-judge tribunal on November 28, 2011 dismissed a petition which had prayed for recording how its chairman could continue in his responsibility after the November 14, 2011 order.
As the tribunal referred to the earlier petition, Razzaq replied that the earlier petition had sought recusal of the tribunal chair.
Since the tribunal-2 of Justice ATM Fazle Kabir, Justice Obaidul Hassan and judge Shahinur Islam had already been instituted for the war crimes trial and four cases were already transferred to it, Ghulam Azam’s case should also be transferred to it, the counsel submitted.
Supreme Court Bar Association president Zainul Abedin and senior lawyer Rafiqul Islam Miah also argued for the petition.
The tribunal asked them whether there was any evidence to prove Justice Nizamul Huq had any involvement in the issue other than his presence at the meeting.
Zainul and Rafiqul replied in negative.
They also agreed that mere a demand made by a person seeking legal action about any offence could not debar him from conducting the trial of the offence.
They, however, submitted that Justice Nizamul Huq should not conduct the trial against Ghulam Azam since the accused had expressed his doubt about getting justice from him.
Razzaq also submitted that the charges framed by the tribunal against Ghulam Azam on May 13 and the charges for which the Peoples’ Court convicted him 20 year ago were the same.
Prosecutor Zead Al Malum opposed the petition saying, ‘This is yet another defence application to delay the proceedings.’
The hearing on the matter resumes this morning.
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