Thursday, April 4, 2013

1, 3 April 2012: Mollah Appellate Division proceedings, day 1 and 2

The Chief Justice created a new appellate division bench in order to allow it to concentrate on hearing the appeals from the International Crimes Division. He was able to do that after five new judges were appointed from the High Court to the appellate division, creating 11 judges in all - which were then divided up into two benches.

The bench dealing with the Abdul Quader Mollah appeal comprises the following judges
Chief Justice M Muzammel Hossain
Justice SK Sinha
Justice Abdul Wahab Mia
Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain
Justice Siddiqur Rahman Mia (newly appointed)
Justice AHM Shamsuddin Chowdhury Manik (newly appointed)
The government on the previous week appointed former judge Syed Amirul Islam as the state counsel to conduct ICT proceedings at the Appellate Division.

There are two appeals before the appellate division:

First, the government's appeal against acquittal in relation to one offense; and sentences of imprisonment in relation to five offences for which Mollah was convicted. He received life sentences for two offences and sentences of 15 years for three offences (see end of the judgment here to see details).

Secondly, an appeal from Mollah seeking an acquittal on all charges.

The tribunal has started with the government's appeal and on the first two days the attorney general's office has simply read out the judgement - on 1 April the Attorney General read out paras 1 to 119 and on 3 April the Additional Attorney General M K Rahman read out the paragraphs 120 to 299. At the end of the hearing, the Chief Justice commented that "Your speed is not enough. You guys need to speed up".

Under the new amendment to the International Crimes (Tribunal) Act 1973, the court is supposed to complete the hearing within 60 days from the date when motions are filed - which was on 4 March 2013. Whether the time limit is mandatory or advisory will undoubtedly be a matter for judicial consideration - particularly as a third of the time has already passed and the government is still reading out the judgement (something which by the by is not at all usually done in the appellate division)

In the afternoon, after the proceedings were over the defense filed two applications; one relating to the recusal of Justice Manik, and another for the recusal of Justice Sinha

To see the index of proceedings relating to the trial and judgement, click here 


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