Today the Tribunal heard matters in the following cases:
- Warning of Contempt Proceedings against Daily Naya Diganta
- Chief Prosecutor vs. Muhammad Kamaruzzaman: Hearing of application for submission of further documentary evidence (Accused Present)
- Contempt Proceedings Against Suranjit Sen Gupta (Accused Not Present)
Comments on Court Administration
Mr Abdul Baset Majumdar, senior counsel for Suranjit Sen Gupta, opened the day’s proceedings by expressing his dissatisfaction with the security clearance procedure at the entrance of the International Crimes Tribunal. He commented that the security often becomes onerous, especially for senior counsel who should be entitled to easier access. He acknowledged the necessity of security protocol but stated the methods and mechanisms employed should be more user-friendly. The Chairman of ICT-2 agreed with Mr Baset, stating that even his car was subject to significant checks at the gates and that the matter will be looked into. In the meantime the court asked counsel for both parties to cooperate.
The court then began hearing arguments in contempt proceedings and within the case of Kamaruzzaman.
Contempt Warning against Daily Naya Diganta
The prosecution counsel then drew the court’s attention to the January 29 edition of the Daily Naya Diganta, which referred to the book “Ekatturer Ghatok o Dalal ra Ke Kothay” (Where are the Collaborators and Miscreants of 71) that was exhibited by the prosecution a day earlier. The newspaper stated that accused Kamaruzzaman is not referenced in the book. The prosecution counsel contested the comment, stating that Kamaruzzaman’s name appears on pages 111 and 112 of the book. The judges admonished the journalists present in the courtroom to be more cautious about their reporting so as to avoid such inaccuracies.
Chief Prosecutor vs. Muhammad Kamaruzzaman
Application to Submit Further Documentary Evidence
The court addressed the prosecution’s application to submit further documentary evidence under section 9(4) of the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act 1973. The Defense said they had no objection and the court passed an order allowing the admission of the evidence. The additional documents include a list, collected by the NSI, of collaborators who were arrested in Dhaka after the liberation war for allegedly assisting the Pakistani Army. It also includes extracts from the Bangla Daily Sangram dated in 1971, reporting on Kamaruzzaman’s role in an Al-Badar organized programme in Myensingh Sherpur marking the Azadi Dibosh, the 25th Pakistan Independence Day. The documents also include a book which refers to the accused as part of Al-Badar’s High Command. The original book, by Prof. Abu Sayeed, will be available for the court’s perusal, said the prosecution counsel.
Contempt Proceedings vs. Suranjit Sen Gupta
Finally, the court addressed the contempt proceedings against Mr Suranjit Sen Gupta, a Minister and front tier leader of the ruling Awami League. As requested by the Tribunal, Gupta through his lawyer Baset Majumdar earlier filed an explanation and apology for his unwarranted comment regarding subjudice matters as to the expected date of verdicts in the cases pending before the Tribunal. Gupta’s lawyer stated that the minister was repentant for making the comment and that he requests the court’s pardon. The counsel further submitted that by saying that the verdicts of the ongoing trials would be passed within the extremely important year of 2013 and that the perpetrators would be hanged , Gupta was merely stating what the public perception is regarding the trial. His lawyer argued that his comments were not intended to lower the image of the Tribunal but that he now recognized that the comments were misplaced.
The court responded that it would not entertain any justification for such comments but is only prepared to accept unconditional and unqualified apology. Gupta’s lawyer expressed such an apology and the tTibunal disposed off the the matter. The Tribunal offered the observation that such comments may affect public perception regarding the Tribunal and negatively impact the cause of fair justice. They stated that the law should be respected and that one’s right to free speech cannot be exercised in a way that infringes on the right to a fair trial. The court instructed Mr. Gupta not to repeat any comments of the kind in future.