Jamaat-e-Islami leader Delwar Hossain Sayedee’s defence on Thursday began presenting facts in its bid for a retrial followed by a similar application on behalf of Ghulam Azam.
Senior defence counsel Mizanul Islam drew references from an alleged Skype conversation supposedly between former tribunal Chairman Justice Mohammad Nizamul Huq and a Brussels-based academic Ahmed Ziauddin, attempting to make a case for retrial.
The controversy first came to light through an order of Justice Huq himself when on Dec 6 he noted that he had been speaking to an international law expert Ahmed Ziauddin regarding the war crimes trials.
The daily Amar Desh, a BNP-leaning newspaper, published what it claimed to be verbatim transcripts of the alleged Skype conversation between Justice Huq and his Brussels-based acquaintance, Ziauddin,
from Dec 9 to Dec 13.
The three-judge International Crimes Tribunal–1, set up to try crimes against humanity during the 1971 Liberation War, indicted Jamaat guru and former chief Ghulam Azam for five charges on May 13, current
Jamaat chief Motiur Rahman Nizami on May 28 for 16 charges, executive council member Sayedee for 20 charges on Oct 3, 2011 and BNP policymaker Salauddin Quader Chowdhury on Apr 4 for 23 charges.
Of the four, Sayedee’s case is the most advanced and is awaiting verdict, Azam’s case has the first defence witness at the stand, Nizami’s case has just heard the second prosecution witness deposition
while Chowdhury’s case is yet to hear the 17th prosecution witness.
Earlier on Thursday, chief Jamaat defence counsel Abdur Razzaq said that the actions of former Chairman, who resigned on Dec 11, had vitiated the proceedings.
The senior Jamaat counsel dwelt upon a number of other cases of similar nature moving his case for recalling Azam’s indictment order.
He said, “This is an order of the court and the court would very well recall it.”
The senior counsel also had cited other cases on Wednesday and said that the court decision on a certain application would have to be taken in isolation of the consequences suggesting that the court
should decide on the application at hand without considering what would happen to the case.
Razzaq said before concluding his deliberations, “This is a case that stands on its own.”
Following the senior counsel’s arguments, the tribunal told Attorney General Mahbubey Alam, who has been attending the retrial hearings and is expected to reply on behalf of the prosecution, that the court
would hear the replies once all three retrial applications for the Jamaat leaders have been heard.
Tribunal Chairman Justice ATM Fazle Kabir told the top government lawyer, “Let us hear all the applications and then we will hear your reply.”
The tribunal reminded senior Jamaat counsel Mizanul Islam to refrain from repeating points that his senior colleague had already made. The counsel proceeded to make his points specific to the Sayedee case.
He referred to a certain order of the tribunal when Justice Huq was its chief which is commonly referred to as the ‘recusal order’. This order had come in response to a defence petition seeking explanation
of Justice Huq as to how he continued to serve as the tribunal chief, after his co-judges left the matter to his ‘good conscience’ given that Justice Huq had been a war crimes trial campaigner previously.
The counsel said that the judge had said in that order that having taken oath as a judge, he would abide by that oath and dispense of his duties professionally and with due sincerity. “But that very order had
come from abroad and he broke his oath with the order where he states that he will uphold his oath.”
The counsel said that the former Chairman had not just been influenced by a third party but acted upon the diktats of that person and referred to a certain “leaked” email which showed that Ahmed Ziauddin
had mailed that recusal order to a certain email address that bears similarity with the former Chairman’s initials.
The counsel referred to that order of Nov 28, 2011, and said that the judge who had broken his oath on that day ceased to be a judge since.
“All his actions since that time come to a nought then.”
By the end of the day, the counsel had spoken for around three hours but still insisted that he had more ground to cover. The tribunal is set to explain another retrial petition, that of Jamaat chief Nizami’s
after Mizanul Islam is done.