Jan 3: The first war crimes tribunal on Thursday rejected retrial applications of three Jamaat-e-Islami leaders saying that it would not rely on hacked documents.
Jamaat guru and former chief Ghulam Azam, current chief Motiur Rahman Nizami and executive council member Delwar Hossain Sayedee had applied to the tribunal for having their indictment orders recalled on the grounds of vitiation.
The applications were based on over 17 hours of alleged Skype conversation and 230 emails between former tribunal chairman Justice Mohammad Nizamul Huq and Brussels-based academic Ahmed Ziauddin, which supposedlypoint to collusion between the judge and the legal expert.
The three-judge International Crimes Tribunal – 1, set up to try crimes against humanity during the 1971 Liberation War, said it had heard the three applications together and the same order would apply for all three since the facts and legal points were the same.
Tribunal chairman Justice A T M Fazle Kabir, while delivering the verdict, said there was an addition only for Sayedee’s case which was awaiting verdict.
Noting that the tribunal has been reconstituted after Justice Huq’s resignation, the court said it would hear the closing arguments again.
It fixed Jan 13-14 for the prosecution to sum up the case followed by the defence on Jan 15-17. This will be followed by an hour when the prosecution will be allowed to reply on law points.
The three Jamaat leaders had appealed for withdrawl of their indictment orders that would eventually result in a re-trial.
Regarding the applications, based on alleged Skype conversation ‘transcripts’ published by the pro-BNP daily Amar Desh, the court said how these transcripts were obtained, where the supposed conversation was recorded and who had done it were questions that needed to be resolved.
The tribunal said referring to on an expert opinion, that such conversation could be manipulated, “In view of the fact we are of the opinion that no reliance can be placed upon such hacked documents which are inadmissible in evidence and as such the prayer for recalling the order of taking cognisance of offence and framing of charge is thus rejected.”
The tribunal also pointed out in the order that although the Economist had published only snatches of the conversation, the Bengali daily published all of it “going beyond minimum ethics”.
The order said that much of the proceedings were held in open court and in determining offence the court would consider witness testimonies and evidence where alleged conversation or email exchanges would have no effect or threaten any prejudice.
Noting that the tribunal consists of not just the chairman but two other judges, the order said that those two judges — the majority — have not disowned the orders and as such they ‘stand good’.
The tribunal said that the defence could not produce anything to show that the illegally obtained material might be admissible as evidence.
The Jamaat defence team had said the apparent collusion between the judge and the prosecution had vitiated the trial.