Today the Tribunal was scheduled to hear matters in the following case:
- Chief Prosecutor vs. Ali Ahsan Muhammad Mujahid: examination-in-chief of prosecution witness (Accused was Present
However, the court first accepted the Prosecution’s submissions for contempt proceedings to be issued against MK Anwar, a political leader of the BNP Party (an opposition party.)
In accordance with the Court’s verbal instructions on 23 January 2013, the Prosecution submitted a written application in regards to a statement made by MK Anwar seeking contempt proceedings to be issued against him. On 20 January 2013 MK Anwar, a day before ICT-2’s first verdict was issued, commented in his speech marking the 77th birth anniversary of late president Ziaur Rahman that the government is staging the ongoing trials as a mechanism of vengeance against the leaders of opposition parties. Mr Rana Das Gupta, the Prosecution counsel, reiterated that the BNP leader’s comment is a malicious one, aimed to jeopardize the confidence of the masses as to the neutrality, independence and fairness of the tribunal. The prosecutor submitted that unless some sort of action is initiated against him, he is likely to continue to make such comments. He noted that MK Anwar had previously made similar comments, for which he was warned by Tribunal-1.
The Prosecution advocated for punishment of MK Anwar under section 11(4) of the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act 1973, which accords the tribunal the authority to punish any person who obstructs or abuses its process or disobeys any of its orders or directions, or does anything which tends to prejudice the case of a party before it, or tends to bring it or any of its members into hatred or contempt, or does anything which constitutes contempt of the Tribunal. The Tribunal upon hearing the learned prosecutor retired till lunch to pass an order.
After lunch, the Tribunal pronounced its order requiring MK Anwar to submit an explanation through his lawyers within 7 days. They opined that such comments pertain to subjudice matters, or matters currently under consideration by the Tribunal, and therefore may adversely influence the public perception about the ICT. The Tribunal further observed that the independent judiciary shall be kept segregated from politics in the interest of upholding the rule of law. MK Anwar shall be obliged to submit his explanation no later than 3 February 2013.
It may be noted that Mr Suranjit Sen Gupta, the ruling party’s influential policy maker is also facing contempt proceedings akin to that now faced by Anwar, for previously making comments on sub-judice matters.
Tribunal-2 did not hear the examination-in-chief of the prosecution witness in Ali Ahsan Mujahid’s case and adjourned for the day.