Case: Chief Prosecutor vs Salauddin Qader Chowdhury
Today Defense counsel of Salauddin Qader Chowdhury presented further arguments. They filed four applications including one asking the Tribunal for an order clarifying that its judges were not party to any of the skype conversations between the former Chairman and Dr. Ziauddin. Other applications included initiating contempt proceedings against Law Minister for influencing the proceedings; summoning the former Chairman of the Tribunal-1 to testify; and seeking the removal of the Chief Prosecutor Zead-al-Malum.
Before the lunch break, Defense Counsel Fakhrul started to place his arguments for an order clarifying that its judges were not party to any of the skype conversations. Fakhrul said that the law minister misused his power. Attorney General argued that application was filed to malign the court and prayed to reject the applications. Tribunal fixed Thursday for hearing Salauddin’s remaining application seeking removal of conducting prosecutor Zead-al-Malum. This application upset the judges who then told Fakhrul that his submissions were not respectful to the judges. The judges then asked him to move on to his other applications.
Lack of Decorum in the Court
During arguments in the case of Salauddin Qader Chowdhury, the Accused, shouted and swore at the Prosecution and Attorney General for raising objections to his motions while his lawyer Barrister Fakhrul Islam was presenting the submissions. Later on an Assistant Attorney General and a junior Defense lawyer shouted at each other and openly threatened each other with serious bodily harm in open court. They came very close to each other in the aisle of the court and there seemed to be a real risk of a physical altercation. Eventually both sides were calmed by the elderly Chief Prosecutor Ghulam Arieff Tipoo and the Chief Defense Counsel Ahsanul Huq. Both sides apologized. The Accused stated he would not have acted in such a way but for the provocation. There have been previous incidents of disruptions caused by Defendant Chawdhury.
After lunch the Defense pleaded that their client be allowed to return to the courtroom. After much negotiation the Accused was allowed back into the courtroom.
Justice Jahangir took issue with Defense Counsel Fakhrul’s submission, stating that “You went beyond your limit. You said the Chief Justice [of the High Court] was involved in this fraud.” Fakhrul urged the judges to read parts of the Skype conversations that show that the Chief Justice of the High Court and another High Court Judge, Justice S.K. Sinha, had spoken with the former chairman about expected verdicts and that they offered reward for quick verdicts.
The Attorney General rose and stated that the court should initiate contempt proceedings against the defense lawyer. The Judges responded positively, stating that they would “take steps.” Chowdury then spoke from the back of the room, stating that his lawyer was filing the application on his instructions. The Attorney General prayed the tribunal to bar the Defense counsel and bring contempt of proceedings against Fakhrul because he was trying to malign not only the trial but also the judicial system.
Pingback: 1 January 2013: Tribunal 1 Proceedings | The Trial Observer