Monthly Archives: February 2013

28 Feb 2013: Sayedee Convicted of 8 out of 20 Charges, Sentenced to Death

Sayedee Verdict
Today Tribunal 1 issued the third verdict of the Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal. The verdict was issued against Delwar Hossain Sayedee who was tried for 20 Charges [See here for the Charge Framing Order]. Sayedee was found guilty on 8 Charges, specifically Charges 6,7,8,10,11,14,16 and 19. He was acquitted of Charges 1,2,3,4,5,9,12,13,15,17 and 18. Charge 20 was dropped previously by the Prosecution.

The Tribunal sentenced Sayedee to death based on his conviction on Charges 8 and 10. Under Charge 8 he was found guilty of directly participating in abduction, murder and persecution as Crimes against Humanity in conjunction with the 8 May 1971 attack on houses of Chitholia, arson attack on the Hindu community at Parerhat Bandar, and instigation of the torture and murder of a civilian, Ibrahim. Under Charge 10 Sayedee was found guilty of direct participation in persecution and murder as Crimes against humanity in conjunction with the 2 June 1971 arson attack on the Hindu Para of Umedpur and ordering the killing of an individual, Bisabali.

We have not yet obtained copies of the summary or full judgment, but will make them available as soon as we receive them.

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27 Feb 2013: ICT-2 Daily Summary – Alim Adjournment and Fine

Today the Tribunal heard matters in the following cases:

  1. Chief Prosecutor vs. Abdul Alim – Defense Petition for Time and Adjournment (Accused Present)

The Defense for Alim submitted a time petition before the Tribunal-2 requesting an adjournment of the case until Sunday, 3 March 2013. The Defense counsel said that the two other senior counsels engaged in the case are currently unavailable, one by reason of his illness and the other because of personal difficulty. The Tribunal Chairman commented that in the interest of justice the Tribunal must grant additional time when counsel is unable to appear because of personal difficulty. However, he stated that such absences cannot continue frequently and continuously. The delay should be compensated by cost implications. Prosecutor Rana Das Gupta submitted that the Defense should pay a cost of Taka 50,000 (fifty thousand), so as to communicate a message to everyone that causing delay will come with burdensome consequences.

The Tribunal adjourned the case until Sunday, requiring the Defense counsel to pay a total of Taka 2,000. The court said that this shall be paid from the counsel’s own pocket and the client should not pay or bear any burden. The Defense counsel said the fine would be paid and apologized for the unwanted delay in the proceedings.

27 Feb 2013: Gholam Azam Closing Arguments, Sayedee Verdict for the 28th

This is a brief summary of today’s proceedings. A more detailed post will follow.

Today the Tribunal heard matters in the following cases:

  1. Chief Prosecutor vs. Gholam Azam
  2. Chief Prosecutor vs. Delwar Hossain Sayedee

The Tribunal heard the Prosecution’s Closing Arguments for the  8th consecutive day. The Prosecution submitted his arguments in support of Charge 5, torture and murder of Sub Inspector of Police Siru Miah as a Crime against Humanity.  This concluded the Prosecution’s arguments based onthe  charges. Thereafter Prosecutor Zead-al-Malum sought adjournment and Tribunal adjourned the proceedings of Ghulam Azam until March 3, 2013.

Today the Sayedee case appearedas Item 2 on the cause list. After hearing the Closing Arguments in the Gholam Azam case the Chairman of Tribunal 1, ATM Fazle Kabir, stated that on January 29, 2013 the Tribunal had completed hearing Closing arguments in the Sayedee case and the case had been under consideration awaiting verdict since then. He announced that the Final Judgment has been prepared and Tribunal will deliver its verdict tomorrow, February 28, 2013.

This will be the third  judgment issued by the International Crimes Tribunal, the first to be issued by Tribunal 1. It follows the verdicts in the Kalam Azad and Qader Molla cases.

It should be noted that after the announcement of the impending verdict, Jamaat-e-Islami has called a hartal (strike) for tomorrow in protest of what they expect to be an unfair verdict against Sayedee, a party leader. In light of the energy behind the ongoing Shabagh movement (which was sparked by the sentence given in the Qader Molla case and is unified around calling for the death penalty against alleged war criminals) and opposition to the trials by Jamaat-e-Islami, there is potential for significant demonstrations and violence tomorrow.

26 Feb 2013: ICT 2 Daily Summary – Contempt Proceedings, Mujahid Cross-Examination of PW 13

Today the Tribunal heard matters in the following cases:

  1. Contempt Proceedings Against M K Anwar, Jamaat Party Leaders (Accused Not Present)
  2. Chief Prosecutor vs. Muhammad Kamaruzzaman: Adjourned
  3. Chief Prosecutor vs. Ali Ahsan Muhammad Mujahid: Cross-examination of Prosecution witness 13 (Accused Present)

The counsel representing M K Anwar filed a written explanation, as requested by the Tribunal, on behalf of the veteran BNP policy maker and stated that his client has the highest regard for the court and that his statements were misplaced and misinterpreted by the newspaper report. MK Anwar had allegedly made comments that the government is staging the ongoing trials of the alleged war criminals as a mechanism of vengeance against the leaders of its opposition parties. Prosecutor Mr Rana Das Gupta sought time for further hearing of the matter, stating that the prosecution will place its submissions after evaluating the written explanation filed on behalf of the opposite party. The matter fixed for hearing on 28 February 2013.

Counsel for the Jamaat leaders Mr Selim Uddin,  Mr Hamidur Rahman Azad MP and Mr Rafiqul Islam sought adjournment of the matter for another week, stating that they could not appear by reason of unavoidable circumstances. The three leaders were ordered to personally appear before Tribunal-2 after contempt proceedings commenced against them following their comments about the tribunal during a public engagement on 4th February, a day prior to Mollah’s judgment. The prosecution strongly objected to their absence and stated an arrest warrant should be issued against each. The judges stated that the absent politicians must be personally present before the court on Sunday 3 March 2013 or face severe consequences.

Mr Kamaruzzaman’s case was adjourned until Sunday, 3 March 2013.

Finally, the cross-examination of Mr Shakti Shaha, PW-13 of the case against Mujahid was resumed by the Defenes and continued for the rest of the day.  The core line of questioning was aimed at attacking the reliability and credibility of the witness’s testimony, suggesting that the testimony is fabricated and is based on coaching by the Prosecution. It was suggested that the witness lives and works in India permanently. It is the Defense’s case that the witness never saw the accused and is a false witness who in reality is an Indian passport holder coming to Bangladesh illegally to give oral evidence. The Defense noted that he gave his previous statements to the Investigating Officer in India and claimed that this was because he is in fact an Indian resident. The Defense further suggested that the witness’ description of what he saw from the top of the tree (allegedly the participation of Mujahid and his associates in the killing of the witness’ father) is not only untrue and fabricated but also impossible and impracticable.

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ICT’s Legal Conclusions: Trial in Absentia

Trial in Absentia:
The first verdict issued by the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) was in the case of Kalam Azad, a case that was held in absentia. It is alleged that Kalam Azad fled to Pakistan so as to avoid trial. Trial in absentia is a rare occurrence in international criminal law. While such trials were conducted during the Nuremberg trials, contemporary courts such as the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia, and the Special Court for Sierra Leone have not allowed such trials.

Tribunal 2 addressed the issue of trial in absentia in its Final Judgment in the Kalam Azad case. This is a summary of their conclusions. Continue reading