The first war crimes tribunal adjourns proceedings against BNP MP until May 7
Dhaka, May 3 (bdnews24.com) — Prosecutor Zead-Al-Malum began his 109-page opening statement against BNP MP Salauddin Quader Chowdhury with description from 8th century history of what preceded Bangladesh.
Thursday saw the International Crimes Tribunal–1, set up on Mar 25, 2010, to deal with crimes against humanity during the 1971 Liberation War, begin trial against the BNP policymaker who has indicted on 23 charges of crimes against humanity and genocide including murder, rape, loot, arson, abduction and torture.
The prosecutor went through the history of this part of the subcontinent at length and was dwelling on the events immediately preceding the Bangladesh War of Independence before the court adjourned proceedings for the day.
The opening statement has been adjourned till May 7.
The defence of Salauddin Quader, a six-time MP from Chittagong, has been directed to submit a list of witnesses and documents to be relied upon by May 17.
Responding to petition for adjourning the proceedings by defence counsel Fakhrul Islam, tribunal chairman Justice Mohammad Nizamul Huq said the tribunal was "not inclined to adjourn the opening statement".
However, the tribunal allowed the defence more time to submit its documents and names of witnesses.
About an hour into Malum's deliberation, tribunal member Judge Zaheer Ahmed said, "It is my understanding that an opening statement constrains itself to a concise argument specifically against the accused."
He explained that the opening statement, to his understanding, should have concentrated on the charges against Salauddin Quader Chowdhury.
The prosecutor said, "To the contrary, my lord, this is the most appropriate place to state who we are and where we are from to set up the context."
Judge Zaheer said, "But you have said that in the formal charges."
The prosecutor came back with his habitual argument saying that the defence was allowed to waste hours after hours with their submissions, suggesting that the prosecution should also be given a similar opportunity.
At this point, the tribunal member raised his hand in apparent submission, saying, "Alright... alright, do carry on then."
Malum was on page 39, dwelling upon the heady days of late 1970 and 1971, when Justice Nizamul Huq adjourned the proceedings.
SQ CHOWDHURY IN ICT
The prosecution submitted formal charges against Salauddin Quader on Nov 14, 2011 and the tribunal took them into cognisance three days later.
The Chittagong MP was shown arrested for war crimes charges on Dec 20, 2010, five days after his arrest.
The investigating agency submitted a 119-page report with around 8,000-page data to the chief prosecutor on Oct 3 in a bid to prove allegations of war crimes during the 1971 Liberation War.
The BNP leader was indicted on Apr 4 on 23 charges of war crimes.
Besides Salauddin Quader and Sayedee whose case is the most advanced, Jamaat chief Matiur Rahman Nizami, secretary general Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujaheed and assistant secretaries general Mohammad Kamaruzzaman and Abdul Quader Molla have been detained on war crimes charges.
The tribunal also sent Jamaat-e-Islami's former chief Ghulam Azam to jail on Jan 11 and is expected to issue his indictment order on May 13.
The second tribunal on Thursday extended the conditional bail of former BNP MP Abdul Alim and member of Ziaur Rahman's cabinet.