The sole purpose of the special tribunal, supposedly set up to deal with “Crimes against Humanity” during 1971 war, is to persecute the top Jamaat-e-Islami leadership. That is why the Awami League government was not particularly interested in maintaining any standards in setting legislation in courts, passing legislation for such courts, or proceeding with the trials. Since the people of Bangladesh are very sensitive and emotional regarding 1971 Independence War, it is very easy for a Third-World government to dumb down the historical intricacies and treat everyone who opposed independence as criminals. That’s the chance the Awami League government took. And with the help of a spineless judiciary, they are set to achieve their goal of silencing their most effective political opponent. It was absolutely clear, from the very beginning, that these courts are merely kangaroo courts, where standards of law and justice are blatantly disregarded and the verdicts have already been decided before the trials have begun. Several key incidents made this obvious:
1. As revealed in #SkypeGate, the judges of this mockery of justice were directed by Ziauddin Ahmed, a member of a notorious anti-Jamaat group. He was not an official of the court and yet, like a Czar, he controlled every aspect of the tribunal. On many occasions, he has written orders that were handed down by the court as-is. He has also designed a guideline for the judges and a basic structure for all the verdicts to come, way before the trials completed.
2. A number of the Tribunal members participated in the so called Gana Adalat Commission (or People’s Court) that prejudged these cases in the early 1990s. Indeed the former Chairman of the Tribunal is listed as a member of the Secretariat of the Commission.
3. There was clear evidence of collusion between the Tribunal, the prosecution, and members of an anti-Jamaat organization during the trial process. The prosecutor and judges would meet regularly in secret and decide how they would act in unison against the defence.
4. Former Chairmen of the ICT-1, Justice Nizamul Huq, admitted that a state minister, Quamrul Islam, pressured him for quick verdicts and a judge of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, Justice SK Sinha, offered him promotion in return.
5. On several occasions, the judges declared that they have a particular view of the events of 1971 and they would never change that view irrespective of whatever evidence or witness testimony are presented before them.
6. In cases where they felt that the state’s accusations are not enough to convict a defendant, the judges added extra accusations themselves out of the blue, or advised the prosecution team to strengthen their charges so that it’s easier for them to convict the accused. The accused has to be convicted, no matter how. For example, in Mr Kamaruzzaman’s case the judges refused to accept the charges against him twice because the charges were not strong enough to convict him. Even after accepting the state’s formal charge, the judges in their final verdict added two more charges of their own, of which Kamaruzzaman was not accused.
Such is the political commitment of the court.
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