Sunday, August 15, 2010

1st Hearing, 26 July 2010: Arrest warrants issued against 4 Jamaat leaders

The first hearing of the Tribunal took place on 26 July and dealt with a prosecution petition, lodged a day earlier, asking the tribunal to issue arrest warrants against four Jamaat-e-Islami leaders - Jamaat Ameer Motiur Rahman Nizami, its Secretary General Ali Ahsan Muhammad Mojahid and senior assistant secretaries general Muhammad Kamaruzzaman and Abdul Quader Molla.

The Daily Star quoted the Chief Prosecutor, Golam Arif Tipu, as telling journalists, after he had filed the petitions, that:
"We have submitted a petition against the Jamaat leaders seeking necessary lawful steps from the tribunal to keep them confined. We made the prayer so that they cannot escape or create obstruction in the investigation and that the investigation agency can smoothly conduct probes into the allegations against them of committing genocide, murder, rape, torture, loot, and arson during the Liberation War of 1971."
The registrar of the tribunal confirmed to me that the arrest warrant was sought on the basis of investigation into two cases that had originally been filed as normal criminal cases at police stations.

One was a case initially filed with Pallabi Police Station in 2008 by Mohammad Amir Hossain Mollah, a wounded freedom fighter and resident of Pallabi's Duaripara, accusing the four Jamaat men along with three other, and three non-Bangalees for the massacre of 345 people.

The case was sent to the Tribunal on July 21 this year by the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate's court.

The second case was filed with Keraniganj Police Station in 2007

At the hearing on 26 July (at which I was not present), the prosecution requested the Tribunal to issue arrest warrants on the basis of rule 9 of the Rules of Procedure, that the arrests were "necessary for adequate and effective investigation."

It was argued that their detention was necessary in order to avoid them interfering with the investigation. It appears that apart from making this general assertion to the court, no details were given to the court by the prosecution as to the basis for thinking that the men would interfere with the investigation, or whether there was any evidence that they had already done so.

The Daily Star reports the prosecutor as saying that said the investigation agency was conducting an investigation and had already found evidence against the four Jamaat leaders relating to offences under section 3(2) of the International Crimes Tribunal Act.

No other details were provided

The newspaper goes on to report this dialogue took place between the Tribunal and the prosecution:
"Chairman of the Tribunal Justice Nizamul asked the chief prosecutor to give his submission as per the requirements of the section 9(1) of the Rules. In response, the chief prosecutor said there are plenty of materials about the four suspected war criminals.

The chairman asked him, "What are the specific allegations against the four persons?" In reply, Tipu said being united with the Pakistani occupation forces and army as an auxiliary force, the alleged persons took part actively in killing, rape, loot, and crimes against humanity and peace.

Member of the Tribunal Justice Fazle Kabir asked about the places of occurrence. "It was the entire Bangladesh," Tipu replied to the court.

Justice Kabir said Bangladesh cannot be the place of occurrence and asked the chief prosecutor to mention specifically about the places of such occurrence he mentioned against the four.
But the prosecution could not mention any specific places of occurrence."

Tribunal Chairman Justice Nizamul Huq ordered that "Warrants of arrest should be issued against these four people to ensure effective and proper investigation." He also asked for the four men to be produced before the Tribunal on 2 August,

No defence lawyers were present at the hearing. A prosecutor told the Daily Star, that the Jamaat leaders had no right for lawyers to be present during hearing seeking the issuance of arrest warrant as the Tribunal had not "taken any charge against them into cognisance."

There is a question as to whether the Tribunal had the power to issue an arrest warrant at this stage in the proceedings - an issue which will be discussed in a later blog.

See: 1971: Questions raised about arrest warrant

Daily Star: Int'l crimes tribunal starts proceedings today, 26 July
Daily Star: Arrest order for 1971 genocide, 27 July

Amendment: The last sentence of the post was titled as 'comment' to prevent any confusion from the preceding text. A new link was also added

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