HRW contempt hearing on Dec 8
Published: 2013-11-04 21:27:49.0 BdST Updated: 2013-11-04 21:27:49.0 BdST
The International Crimes Tribunal has set Dec 8 for hearing its contempt of rule against the US-based Human Rights Watch.
A three-member tribunal led by ATM Fazle Kabir gave the order on a petition by Human Rights Watch (HRW).
The International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) has set the same day for issuing order on its rule against the Economist on the alleged Skype conversation.
There was a lawyer on behalf of the HRW, but there was none on the Economist’s behalf.
The tribunal, on the other hand, extended the time for the Economist suo moto.
The tribunal had ruled on Sep 2 why it should not bring a contempt of court rule against the human rights organisation.
HRW’s board of directors, its Asia director Brad Adams and associate Storm Tiv had been asked to explain within three weeks.
Ghulam Azam was sentenced to 90 years in prison on Jul 15 for his role during the nation’s Liberation War.
Judges said they had spared him a death sentence considering his age and physical condition.
In a statement the following day, the HRW said the government had ‘ignored warnings’ that ‘the law and the trial process were deficient’.
The statement titled ‘Bangladesh: Azam Conviction Based on Flawed Proceedings’ claimed the tribunal had conducted an investigation on behalf of the prosecution, something the existing laws did not allow.
The judges were not neutral in delivering the verdict and the tribunal had failed to protect defence witnesses, it said.
The HRW statement said changes had been made in the trial court panel and there was not enough evidence to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The rights body believes the tribunal lacked evidence to convict the former Jamaat-e-Islami chief.
The prosecution on Aug 20 moved the tribunal seeking ‘contempt of court’ proceedings against the rights body.
Tureen Afroz, Sultan Mahmud Simon and Tapas Kanti Bal said the HRW statement questioning the Ghulam Azam verdict and the role of the tribunal was aimed at ‘eroding people’s confidence in the tribunal’.
The prosecution alleged that the rights group had taken a similar stand in several other countries including Afghanistan and Iraq.
The prosecution claimed the ‘partial, made up and baseless’ statement had been issued ‘intentionally’ to hold the tribunal judges in question.
On the other hand, the tribunal had ruled against the Economist on Dec 6 last year for publishing an alleged Skype conversation between expatriate legal expert Ahmed Ziauddin and ICT-1 Judge Nizamul Huq and questioning the judge about it.
The court had asked as to why steps should not be taken against the Economist for hindering the trials of crimes against humanity that took place during the War of Liberation.
Amid the controversy, the tribunal’s chief judge resigned from his post.
The defence and the prosecution of the Economist finished their arguments on July 18.
The Economist’s defence lawyer Barrister Mustafizur Rahman said that day that nowhere did the Bangladesh law say that journalists could not speak to judges.
As such, the Economist had not committed any contempt of court, he said.
Rahman had on March 25 responded in writing to the tribunal on behalf of the Economist.
Earlier on Aug 27 and Sept 26, he did not turn up at the tribunal and so the tribunal set Dec 8 for issuing its order.
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