Bangladesh poised to commit another judicial murder!

Rumours are in the air that Government of Bangladesh is poised to commit yet another judicial killing by upholding the tribunal -2 death penalty verdict against Jamaat leader Muhamamd Kamaruzzaman. The Supreme Court of Bangladesh is in its vacation now which will reopen on October 30. Speculation are rife that the court may deliver the verdict on the day of it’s opening on Kamaruzzaman’s appeal. The hearing on appeal was concluded on September 14 this year and verdict left pending.  Muhammad Kamaruzzaman, Jamaat’s Assistant Secretary General, is one of the 9 top leaders of Bangladesh Jamaate-E-Islami who are facing war crimes trial for alleged involvement in crime against humanity during the nation’s war of independence in 1971. Earlier, the International War Crimes Tribunal – 2 had sentenced Mr. Kamaruzzaman to death on 9 May 2013. He was convicted on 5 charges among 7. The tribunal sentenced him to death for two charges and handed down life imprisonment for another two. He was also sentenced to 10 years for another case while acquitted for rest of the two cases. Kamaruzzaman had been indicted and arrested on 13 July 2010.

A flawed judgement

Although the verdict against Kamaruzzman was welcomed with cheer and applaud from the prosecution and the supporters of the trial, the mass people however was surprised that so much responsibilities was put on a person who was only 19 years old in 1971.

Chief defence counsel Abdur Razzaq said, ‘He was just a lad during the war. It’s a ridiculous suggestion that a 19-year-old could control the Pakistani army.’

‘The only crime he has committed is being a leader of the opposition,’ added Razzaq.

Muhammad Kamaruzzaman rejected the verdict terming it as wrong judgement. He said, ‘History never forgives anyone. Everyone will have to face justice One day.’

Hasan Iqbal Wamy, eldest son of Kamaruzzaman said in his reaction, ‘My father was convicted on fabricated charges. He did not get the justice.’

No direct witness

Prosecution failed to produce any direct witness in 5 charges for which Muhammad Kamaruzzaman was convicted.

In Charge 1 Crimes against Humanity of Murder for the murder of Badiuzzaman, two hearsay witnesses were adduced by the Prosecution (PWs 4 and 6). No live witnesses were examined although they were still alive. It was argued by the defence citing cases from the ICTY, ICTR and East Timor that hearsay evidence, if not corroborated does not have any probative value. However, the ICT-2 relied on hearsay evidence of PW4 and 6 without any corroboration.

In charge 2 Crimes against Humanity of Other Inhumane Acts for humiliation of Principal Hannan, despite the victim family claimed that they had filed a case against Kamaruzzaman in 1972, soon after incident took place, they fail to provide document to prove this claim. Rather defence produced FIR that shows Kamaruzzaman was not in that case.

In charge 3 Crimes against Humanity of Murder for the Shohagpur Massacre, No evidence produced detailed the nature of the advice given as to the massacre. It is not clear whether the instruction given was lawful or unlawful. Indeed it could well have been that Kamaruzzaman gave lawful advice. There was no charge of rape. However, Kamaruzzaman was made liable for the alleged rape of the women in Shohagpur. It is admitted by the Prosecution that Kamaruzzaman was a teenager at the time (18-19 years old). It is beggar’s belief as to how an 18 year old would advise the Pakistan Army, a professional army to carry out such attacks!

In charge No.4 Crimes against Humanity of Murder for killing Golam Mostofa, a then 11 years boy who is also a ruling party activist gave testimony hearing from third party, a hearsay cannot be verified by another hearsay. All three of the witnesses (PWs 2, 5 and 14) were hearsay witnesses. None of the witnesses were eye-witness to the murder. Only PW5 was able to recall the date of the alleged murder as contained in the Charge Framing Order (23, August 1971). PW2 gave three different dates.

Kamaruzzaman was acquitted for charge 5 and 6.

In Charge 7, Crimes against Humanity of Murder for bayoneting to death of Dara Miah and five civilians. :  It is alleged that Dara Miah was arrested on Kamaruzzaman’s order in the middle of  November, 1971 and killed the next day. None of the witnesses (PWs 1, 9 and 15) gave direct or hearsay evidence that Dara Miah was apprehended at the instructions of Kamaruzzaman. So the charge was not proved.

From the above discussion it is apparent that none of the charges had any credibility to convict Kamaruzzaman. His lawyers rightfully claimed that, Kamaruzzaman was innocent and he did not commit any of the crimes.

 

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