The first war crimes tribunal on Monday rejected six applications of Jamaat-e-Islami leader Delwar Hossain Sayedee saying that they had no merit.The tribunal also noted that some of the applications had been earlier disposed of.
The three-judge International Crimes Tribunal-1, set up to try crimes against humanity during the 1971 Liberation War, indicted Sayedee for 20 war crimes charges on Oct 3, 2011.
The Jamaat executive council member’s defence had prayed that Sayedee’s investigator be recalled for further cross-examination and Sayedee’s 13th defence witness — his son Masood Sayedee — be recalled for further evidence.
The defence had also prayed to the tribunal to clarify how many summons it had issued for Sayedee’s prosecution witnesses and for an opportunity to let the Jamaat leader to speak for himself.
Another application prayed that the tribunal call its witness home personnel as court witnesses.
Mizanul Islam, who has been handling Sayedee’s trial, said he also needed more time to sum up the case and prayed for extending his time from the six sessions that the tribunal had initially allocated on Jan 3.
Rejecting all applications for retrial, the tribunal said that since it has been reconstituted, the judge would again hear the closing arguments and allotted four sessions for the prosecution and six for the defence.
The flurry of retrial applications of Jamaat leaders — former chief Ghulam Azam and current chief Motiur Rahman Nizami have also applied for the same relief — was triggered by a controversy that led former tribunal chairman Justice Mohammad Nizamul Huq to resign on Dec 11.
A BNP-leaning newspaper daily Amar Desh published ‘transcripts’ of an alleged Skype conversation between Justice Huq and a Brussels-based academic that apparently suggested collusion between the judge and the prosecution.
BNP policymaker Salauddin Quader Chowdhury had filed for removing the conducting prosecutor, Zead-Al-Malum, based on the same information.
Chowdhury’s counsel Fakhrul Islam had prayed for an order of the tribunal where the judges would clarify that they had no prior knowledge of this alleged Skype conversation or did not have contacts with those implicated in, what the lawyer said, a conspiracy suggested by the leaked conversations.
This application, the tribunal said, had lowered the court’s dignity and the lawyer now faces a notice asking him to explain why action should not be taken.
Jamaat guru Ghulam Azam’s defence had also filed for removal of Malum as the conducting prosecutor and the court had decided to hear both the Malum applications together.
This was taken up after lunch on Monday and is set to continue on Tuesday when the court is also expected to hear three review applications of its Jan 3 retrial rejection.
Before lunch, Salauddin Quader’s defence had appealed for an adjournment till an order of the second war crimes tribunal, asking Ahmed Ziauddin to explain himself at the Bangladeshi embassy in Brussels for making derogatory comments about the tribunal, was complied with.
The defence counsel said that these matter had to be clarified before the trial could proceed and requested an adjournment which the court summarily rejected saying that the matter had no bearing with his case and the tribunal was not inclined to grant an adjournment on such “flimsy grounds”.