War crimes tribunal finds that the lawyers violated the British bar's code of conduct, writes Tanim Ahmed
Dhaka, Nov 14 (bdnews24.com) — War crimes tribunal on Monday found that three British lawyers had violated the British bar's code of conduct and ordered the registrar to notify the Bar Standards Board in London for necessary action.
The misconduct stems from an email that Steven Kay QC, Toby Cadman and John Cammegh, claiming to be Jamaat-e-Islami leader Delwar Hossain Sayedee's lawyers, sent to the International Crimes Tribunal chairman Justice Nizamul Huq asking him to immediately remove himself as the tribunal chief.
Jamaat executive council member Sayedee is currently standing trial at the tribunal on 20 counts of crimes against humanity including genocide, murder, rape, arson and loot.
Jamaat's mouthpiece, the daily Sangram had published a report on Nov 10 based on that letter dated Nov 8. Chief prosecutor Ghulam Arieff Tipoo drew the court's attention to this matter as soon as the judges were seated on Monday morning.
The Sangram story used a suggestive quote from the letter of the three lawyers which says 'The tribunal has lost its credibility due to your direct involvement with the Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee', which conducted a people's court and symbolically tried Ghulam Azam.
Huq was a member of the enquiry commission of that committee. The shoulder of the story reads, 'Letter of three British lawyers asking tribunal chair to step down'.
Reading out the order, AKM Zaheer Ahmed, one of the judges of the International Crimes Tribunal, also ordered that a copy of the order and the emailed letter be sent to the law secretary to facilitate its order.
He stated that the fact that this letter, personal correspondence with a High Court judge, was forwarded to the local media was 'contemptuous'. Zaheer Ahmed said the main intention of the three persons was to "humiliate a judge of the Supreme Court of an independent sovereign country".
Signed by the three lawyers, this letter, a copy of which has been secured by bdnews24.com, was addressed to Justice Nizamul Huq where the trio cites international covenants and statutes enshrining one's right to a neutral judicial process.
The judge noted that as a footnote to the email, it mentioned that the letter was confidential and should anyone receive it in error, it should be deleted immediately and the IT department of the British law firm should be notified. However, the email was obviously forwarded to Bangladeshi media.
The judge then concluded that this letter was not at all confidential but only meant to create further embarrassment for the tribunal chief Huq.
The trio states that the Huq's involvement with the commission 'puts the integrity and independence of the International Crimes Tribunal at risk and raises serious concerns of the appearance of bias in the case against our client'.
They further write that since the prosecution 'have indicated that they will rely on findings of the Secretariat (meaning the commission) and evidence that you are directly linked to erodes the credibility of the Tribunal in its current composition to adjudicate on such documents'.
The letter concludes, "It is for this reason that we must respectfully request that you recuse yourself as Chairman of the International Crimes Tribunal with immediate effect.