Confusion prevails over whether the prosecution can appeal to secure the maximum punishment of death sentence for Jamaat-e-Islami leader Abdul Quader Molla who was awarded life in prison for crimes against humanity during the 1971 Liberation War.
Molla was acquitted of one out of six charges that included murder, rape and conspiracy.
While authorities hinted at the possibility of appealing against the verdict, a lawyer of the Ghatak-Dalal Nirmul Committee said Molla can appeal, but the government cannot.
Law Minister Shafique Ahmed thinks otherwise.
“There is scope for both sides to appeal against the verdict. If the prosecution thinks they can appeal, it depends on them,” he said.
The Section 21 of the amended 1973 Act under which the trial is being conducted says: “A person convicted of any crime specified in section 3 and sentenced by a Tribunal shall have the right of appeal to the Appellate Division of the Supreme court of Bangladesh against such conviction and sentence.”
It continues, “The Government shall have the right of appeal to the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh against an order of acquittal.”
Explaining the provision, Ghatak-Dalal Nirmul Committee’s chief legal advisor Barrister Turin Afroz said the provision of the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act, 1973 allows only the convicted person to appeal seeking reduction of the sentence term, but it does not allow the prosecution to appeal for an increase of the punishment.
Barrister Afroz told a private TV that since Molla is convicted, the prosecution cannot appeal seeking the highest punishment of death sentence. “[But] Quader Molla can appeal [the verdict],” he said.
Additional Attorney General MK Rahman, however, said the prosecution was considering appealing against a part of the verdict that acquitted Molla of one charge.
“We believe, the tribunal has delivered the verdict considering everything,” he told bdnews24.com. “The accused has been acquitted of No. 4 charge. I think we can only appeal against this part.”
He said the law says an appeal can be filed against an acquittal decision.
Meanwhile, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam said the government would take a decision whether to move the Appellate Division after examining the full text of the verdict carefully .
An appeal must be filed within 30 days of the verdict.