Ghulam Azam Trial
Deposition of witnesses begins June 24Staff Correspondent
The International Crimes Tribunal-1 on Sunday said it would start recording depositions of the prosecution witnesses against Ghulam Azam, former chief of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, on June 24.
The prosecution has prepared a list of 88 witnesses against Ghulam Azam who had headed Jamaat in 1971.
The tribunal, also known as war crimes tribunal, set the date after the prosecution made its opening statement.
The prosecution stated that Ghulam Azam was an
offender as he had told the tribunal earlier that he was a pardoned collaborator.
It said that Ghulam Azam was among other civilian leaders who had collaborated with the Pakistan army and planned, conspired and instigated atrocities committed across the country during the war in 1971.
Ghulam Azam’s counsel argued that the trial should begin only after disposal of a petition filed by him seeking that his case be transferred to tribunal-2.
The tribunal said an order would be passed today.
The tribunal-1 of Justice Nizamul Huq, Justice Anwarul Haque and judge AKM Zahir Ahmed is also likely to pass its order in another petition by Ghulam Azam.
The petition seeks review of an order passed on May 13, charging Ghulam Azam on 61 counts of crimes against humanity, conspiracy, planning, incitement and complicity in atrocities committed during the war in 1971.
Meanwhile, tribunal-2 of Justice ATM Fazle Kabir, Justice Obaidul Hassan and judge Shahinur Islam, posted for June 14 its order in a petition filed by the detained assistant secretary general of Jamaat, Abdul Quader Molla.
Abdul Quader sought review of the order which charged him on six counts of genocide and crimes against humanity.
Tribunal-1 on Sunday also extended the deadline until June 24 for submission of a list of defence witnesses and documents in the case against Ghulam Azam.
The tribunal extended the deadline after defence counsels Mizanul Islam and M Tajul Islam argued that they needed more time for completing the formalities.
The tribunal mentioned that the previous deadline had expired on June 5, but the defence failed to submit the list and the documents.
Mizanul Islam said, ‘We are not saying that the tribunal has not given us time. It is completely our failure for not being able to have completed the list.’
The tribunal also said that it would pass an appropriate order on noncompliance of its order asking jail authorities to hand over books, supplied by the family, to Ghulam Azam at his prison cell at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University.
At the beginning of the day’s proceedings, defence lawyer Tajul Islam told the tribunal that the prison authorities were yet to hand over the books to Ghulam Azam.
The tribunal came down heavily on prosecutor Zead Al Malum, as he argued that the prison authorities faced difficulties in supplying the books and it had to go by the Jail Code.
The tribunal said it had passed an order and wanted it to be complied with.
Malum stood up to make some submissions and handed a copy of some official correspondences.
The tribunal refused to hear him.
Prosecutor Syed Haider Ali proceeded to assist the tribunal and said that the jail authorities were apparently in a quandary over how to comply with its regulations for inspecting the books since there was no one designated or competent to examine them and verify their authenticity.
Haider conveyed the jail authorities’ suggestion that it was becoming difficult for them to provide Ghulam Azam with the books that the defence had supplied. If the defence could give a list of the books, the jail would buy them, he said.
The tribunal observed the argument should have been made earlier when it passed the order.
The tribunal, however, said it would pass an appropriate order today in this regard.
Both the prosecution and defence counsels were engaged in a debate over the issue, but it stopped after the tribunal intervened and the chief prosecutor, Golam Arif Tipu, began reading out the 142-page opening statement marking the commencement of Ghulam Azam’s trial.
The chief prosecutor said Ghulam Azam, during the framing of charges on May 13, had told the tribunal that he was on the list of collaborators and was pardoned under a general amnesty declared by the government of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman after the release of the ‘war criminals.’
Tipu said that the prosecution would place in the tribunal the papers and documents whether Ghulam Azam was actually granted mercy by the government.
He said that Ghulam Azam had perpetrated the crimes in collaboration with the Pakistan army from his organisational capacity.
The chief prosecutor said that Ghulam Azam had left no crime uncommitted as described in the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act 1973. He added that the accused not only had collaborated with the Pakistan army, but also initiated crimes on his own through party associates.
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