Tuesday, December 13, 2011

11 Dec 2011: Charges against Nizami etc

Prior to the start of the cross examination of witness one, which is dealt with in the next post, the prosecution gave to the tribunal copies of charges against Matiur Rahman Nizami, Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid and Muhammad Kamaruzzaman.

The tribunal chairman then passed this order:
'Today is fixed for filing formal charge with respect to Matiur Rahman Nizami, Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid and Muhammad Kamaruzzaman and Abdul Qader Molla. Learned Chief Prosecutor submitted that they have completed preparation of formal charge regarding Matiur Rahman Nizami, Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid and Muhammad Kamaruzzaman, but they could not complete the task regarding Abdul Qader Molla. They prayed for some time to submit the formal charge. Upon consideration of the fact that they have submitted formal charge and documents regarding Matiur Rahman Nizami, Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid and Muhammad Kamaruzzaman, the time may be extended up to 18/12/2011 for consideration of the cognisance matter regarding the three accused. Prosecution is directed to submit formal charge regarding accused Abdul Qader Molla also by that date, i.e. 18/12/2011. The accused persons are to be presented on that date.'
Abdur Razzaq, the head of the defence team, then rose and showed a copy of a newspaper report where the law minister Shafique Ahmed was reported on Saturday as stating that 'the ICT was prosecuting only those who killed three million people and raped 200,000 women during the 1971 Liberation War on the charges of committing crimes against humanity.'

Razzaq drew the tribunal’s attention to the reports and wanted to know whether the law minister, holding such a responsible position, could make such comments on a matter now under trial before the ICT.

The tribunal chairman, Justice Nizamul Haque, responded by saying that, ‘You've brought a very important matter before us… We also go through daily newspapers and watch TV talk shows over the trial of the war crimes. .... Not only the ministers, but others are also making unsubstantiated comments at different programmes including television talk-shows. You, the defence counsels are also making frequent comments. The media are publishing and airing incorrect reports.’

He said that judges often see media reports where their orders are noted and quoted with some comments like, “Three petitions were filed and rejected as usual”. Most of the time tribunal chooses to ignore these reports, he said. He said that many of the defence applications have been accepted by the tribunal. 'We can only say we are sorry that many lawyers have made comments on newspaper.' He said that one of the leaders of this bar has commented outside, about the judiciary of this tribunal. 'We are keeping ourselves mum.' He said that, 'We can say we don’t like this. This is unheard of. We are an independent tribunal, duty-bound and oath-bound and we will act fairly. Thank you for that. 'You can comment on the order, you can question the tribunal, ……but don’t touch the judge. This should be maintained in press too. We want to avoid these things. We want to say something but we restrain ourselves. Both sides should restrain themselves about passing comment which may give different signals.'

Abdur Razzak said that he had done his duty and hope this kind of comment will not be mad in the future.

Razzak then mentioned an order passed on 16/5/2011 and another on 1/10/2011 regarding transport facilities to be given to his client Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid. He said that 'we want a health-friendly vehicle. We have sent letter to Deputy Commissioner and Police Super. The jail super has tried but his hand is tied by the police authority.'

The chairman responded by saying that with a change in district, there a change in security but not sure whether vehicle is changed as well. 'He should be given a vehicle so that he doesn’t become further sick,' he said.

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