Category Archives: Trial of Abdul Qader Molla

4 Feb 2013: ICT-2 Daily Summary – Adjournment and Announcement of Upcoming Verdict in Qader Molla Case

The Tribunal 2 only convened for a very brief morning session, stating that it will not hear the scheduled cases. There was a “hint” that the Tribunal might deliver its second judgment the following day.

The Registrar of the International Crimes Tribunal, Mr AKM Nasiruddin Mahmud,  officially announced on Monday at 1:30 pm that the Tribunal-2 has fixed Tuesday, 5 February 2013 to issue the verdict in the case of Abdul Qader Molla. The closing arguments for the case were concluded last month on 17 January 2013.  Following its maiden judgment in the case of Abul Kalam Azad, alias Bachchu , passed on 21 January 2013, this shall mark the second judgment by this Tribunal. Tribunal 2 is comprised of f Justice Obaidul Hassan as the Chairman, Justice Mozibur Rahman Miah and Judge Md. Shahinur Islam.

It remains to be seen whether the judgment of the Azad case will be treated as judicial precedent to be followed in other ICT verdicts.

Under Section 21(1) of the International Crimes (Tribunal) Act 1973, defendants who are convicted by the Tribunal have the right to appeal before the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh within 30 days from the date of conviction. The prosecution will have right to appeal against acquittal under Section 21(2) of the ICT.

15 Jan 2013: ICT 2 Daily Summary – Qader Molla, Alim, Mujahid

The Tribunal heard matters in the following cases:

  1. Chief Prosecutor vs. Abdul Quader Molla – Defense closing arguments  (Accused Present)
  2. Chief Prosecutor vs. Abdul Alim– Examination of Prosecution Witness (Accused Present)
  3. Chief Prosecutor vs. Ali Ahsan Muhammad Mujahid – Examination of Prosecution Witness (Accused Present)

In the case of Qader Molla the Defense continued its closing arguments, attacking the prosecution’s evidence in support of charges 5 and 6. In particular they attacked the credibility of witnesses who had testified in support of the charges. The Tribunal urged them to complete their arguments and stated that they would only have one hour during tomorrow’s session to do so.

In the case against Mujahid, the Prosecution conducted its examination-in-chief of their 12th witness, who provided testimony in support of Charge 7, pertaining to the killing of the witness’ brothe,r Biren Shaha, along with 8 to 9 others from the Hindu community on 13 May 1971.

Finally, in the case against A.M.Alim, the Prosecution conducted its examination-in-chief of their 9th witness, Jahidul Islam, who testified in support of Charge 6, pertaining to the killing of Abdus Salam and nine others in early May 1971, as the victims were fleeing the conflict on their way to India.

To read in more detail please continue reading here: Continue reading

13 Jan 2013: ICT 2 Daily Summary – Qader Molla Defense Closing Arguments

Today, ICT 2 heard matters in the following cases:

  1. Chief Prosecutor vs. Abdul Quader Molla – Defense Closing Arguments (Accused was Present)

The Defense focused their submissions on the following legal points:

  • The case was brought to the ICT without filing the appropriate legal complaint
  • The transfer of the case from a domestic court to the ICT was improper and did not follow appropriate procedure.
  • The Investigating Officer improperly submitted the Investigation Report before completion of investigation and did not follow procedure in maintaining the Case Diary.
  • The evidence provided by prosecution witnesses 4 and 7 is flawed and contradictory

On behalf of Qader Molla, Defense counsel Tarafdar continued the closing arguments by attacking the instigation of the case and then by analysing the prosecution’s evidence and witness testimony.

The Case Was Not Properly Instigated
The Defense claimed that the case against Qader Molla was improperly instigated because an initial complaint containing the allegations against the Accused was not filed before the ICT. Tarafdar pointed out that the case began after cases pending  against Qader Molla in Pallabi and Keranigonj, based on complaints filed in the respective area’s police stations, were sent from the Dhaka Metropolitan Magistrates’ Court to the Registrar’s office at the ICT. The Defense questioned whether 1) it was appropriate for the records of cases pending before a court to be transferred to the tribunal in this manner and 2)whether the tribunal may proceed with cases that are ongoing under the Penal Code.

The Defense argued that a case must be instituted by filing a complaint against the accused or suspect.  Although the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act 1973 contains no such provision, the Defense argued that the International Crimes (Tribunal-2) Rules of Procedure 2012 implies a similar requirement.  Rule 2(6) defines “complaint” as any information, oral or in writing obtained by the Investigation Agency including its own knowledge relating to the commission of a crime under section 3(2) of the 1973 Act. The Defense claimed that no such information was ever obtained.

The Defense argued that the two cases that were transferred from the Metropolitan Magistrates Court to the ICT (Case No.34 of Keraniganj police station, dated 31 December 2007;  and Case No. 60 of Pollobi police station, dated 25 January 2008)  were based on the Penal Code and so are outside the jurisdiction of the tribunal. The Defense further argued that the 1973 Act and the 2010 Rules of Procedure contain no provision allowing for the transfer of such cases to the ICT. The Defense argued that such transfer is not allowed and that due to these and other procedural improprieties, the investigation and initiation of the case against Qader Molla in the ICT should be nullified.

Irregularities in the Investigation Process
The Defense further alleged that there had been irregularities in the investigation process. They noted that the Investigation Report was submitted by the Investigation Officer (IO) before the completion of the investigation and that the Case Diary in which the investigation progress is recorded was not properly kept afterwards. The Defense noted that the IO, who later gave testimony as prosecution witness 12, only referred to 3 of the 6 charges ultimately brought against Qader Molla during in his examination-in-chief. Therefore the Defense claimed the investigation was flawed and the charges ultimately framed against Qader Molla were similarly flawed.

The Defense stated that the Investigation Officer (IO) began his investigation on 22 July 2010. As per Rule 8(1), the IO is required to maintain a Case Diary until the completion of the investigation and as per Rule 11, he must submit an Investigation Report after the completion of the investigation.The Defense highlighted that the IO admitted during his testimony that he continued his investigation after submitting the investigation report, contrary to Rule 11. The Defense argued that the IO does not have lawful authority to continue investigation in this manner. Furthermore, they argued that Section 8(4) of the 1973 Act provides for only one IO as the wording “any investigation officer” has been used.  The Defense stated that the prosecution team also investigated, and that this duplicated the job of the IO in a way not provided for in the Act. The investigation was thus flawed on the basis of which charges have been brought which were also flawed.

The judges requested the Defense to address the underlying evidential defects in regards to each of the charges, asking Tarafdar to deal with each charge chronologically and separately. The Defense chose to begin with Charge 4 even though the Judges suggested he begin with Charge 1.

Witness Testimony in favor of Charge 4 is Not Credible:
The Defense began criticizing the prosecution’s evidence for charge 4 by attacking the witnesses who testified in support of the charge (PWs 1,7 and 8).

The Defense noted that Prosecution Witness 1, Mr Mozaffar Ali Khan, testified in support of charge 4, alleging that he saw Qader Molla in front of Mirpur Physical Training Centre and that he was armed and accompanied by along with his associates. He neither saw the incident alleged in the charge, nor Quader Molla’s participation in it. The Defense further noted that the withness had previously testified before the Chief Judicial Magistrate pertaining to a case filed in 2007 [CR Case No. 17/2007 in CMM Court, subsequently transformed to GR Case No. 34(12)2007 in Keranigonj Police Station], but did not make any statement implicating Qader Molla.

The Defense additionally noted that Mozaffar Ali Khan had been acquainted with the accused since 1969 due to political rivalry. Yet Mr. Khan did not complain about the accused after the liberation war, which gives rise to further doubt in regards the involvement of the accused.

The Defense then focused on prosecution witness 7, Mr Abdul Majid Paluan. The counsel alleged that the IO recorded this witnesses statement falsified the date when the statement was actually recorded by backdating it. The Defense alleged that prosecution witnesses 7 and 8 were actually only produced later, when the IO found that prosecution witness 1 could not give enough evidence against the accused in support of the charge.

The judges commented that there had been some inconsistencies in the testimony of witness 7, in that he first alleged that he saw the accused participate in the shooting whereas he later said that he heard from others that the accused had been involved.

The tribunal then adjourned for the day. They noted that they had allocated the entire day for the defense counsel’s arguments and asked him to sum up before lunch break tomorrow.

Courtroom Dynamics
The Defense counsel was at times slow and repetitive in his submissions. The judges noted their dissatisfaction with the pace of the arguments and asked the defense to be more expeditious. At some points, a strain between the judges and the counsel was apparent.

9 Jan 2013: ICT 2 – Qader Molla Defense Closing Arguments

The Tribunal continued hearing the Defense’s closing arguments in the case of Chief Prosecutor vs. Abdur Qader Molla

Arguments were made regarding the following legal points:

  •  Inadequacy of evidence due to delay or other reason will not lessen the burden of the prosecution to prove charges beyond reasonable doubt.
  • The offences under International Crimes (Tribunals) Act 1973 are categorized into four modes of liability, the charges must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt for the asserted mode.
  • To Prove Aiding and Abetting Prosecution must show knowledge and direct and substantial assistance or involvement.
  • Abduction was not understood as a Crime against Humanity according to Customary International Law at the time of the alleged crimes and therefore the accused cannot be charged with that crime under the ICT Act.
  • There are inconsistencies and discrepancies in te prosecution witness testimony presented and the majority of that testimony should be categorized as un-attributable hearsay statements that lack probative value.

The Defense began its submission by stating that it would address the legal issues involved with each of the charges against Quader Mollah.

Defense counsel Abdur Razzaq discussed the standard of proof by which the prosecution must prove the guilt of Quader Molla, stating that “beyond reasonable doubt” requires that the court be satisfied that liability of the accused is the only reasonable conclusion available. He cited the ICTY Appeal Chamber decision in Prosecutor v. Dragomir Milosevic.

Inadequacies of Evidence Due to Lapse of Time Will Not Lessen the Burden of Proof
The Defense discussed the four modes of liability provided for under the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act 1973, liability 1) as the principal under sections 3(2)(a) through (f);  2) as an accomplice or conspirator under sections 3(2)(g) for attempt, abetment or conspiracy and (h) for complicity or failure to prevent the commission of such crimes; 3) vicarious liability under section 4(1) as one of the several persons who committed a crime under section 3 and 4) for command responsibility under section 4(2) as a commander or superior officer who orders or permits in the commission of those crimes. The Defense stressed that the case of the accused must fit into one of these four modes of liability and that any minute doubt in this regard must be construed in favor of the accused, as articulated by the ICTY Trial Chamber in the Tadic judgment (Prosecutor v Tadic, Case No.:IT-94-A-T; paragraph 240).

The Defense further noted that on occasions, it may be difficult for the prosecution to bring adequate evidence in support of the defendant’s guilt because of the elapse of time since the crime or other reasons. They argued that in the instant case for example, prosecuting the accused and others in the International Crimes Tribunal after 40 years since the liberation war commission is difficult and troublesome for the prosecution, given the fact that many witnesses have expired and others unable to recall and cannot be found. They stated that as established in the appeal judgment of ICTY in the case, Prosecution v ZORAK KUPRE[KI], MIRJAN KUPRE[KI], VLATKI KUPRE[KI], VLADIMIR SANTIC, IT-95-16-A, such difficulty will not be a valid reason for the prosecution to lower the required standard of proof.

Charge 1: To Prove Aiding and Abetting Prosecution must show Knowledge and Direct and Substantial Assistance
The Defense further argued that for Charge 1 against Quader Molla, which alleges the  second mode of libaility – aiding and abetting, the prosecution failed to prove that Molla’s alleged acts had a substantial effect on the commission of the crime. This standard, as established by the Appeal Chambers of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Sylvestre Gacumbitsi v The Prosecutor, ICTR-2001-64-A; paragraph 140, shows that mere presence at the scene of the crime is not sufficient to prove aiding and abetting. Furthermore, the I.L.C Draft Code concludes that the accused must knowingly aid, abet or otherwise assist, directly and substantially, in the commission of such a crime. The Defense argued that the Prosecution merely drew a pictorial or panoramic presentation of the series of incidents that took place leading up to the death of Palab failed to affirmatively establish each of all these elements beyond the standard of reasonable doubt.

Upon being asked by the court to make submissions regarding the definition and elements of abduction, the Defense stated that abduction was not recognized under customary international law in 1971 as a crime against humanity and so the accused should not be tried for abduction. It was first recognized only in the year 1992 and even then not precisely as abduction, but in terms of “forced disappearance of persons”, as defined in Article 7(2)(i) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

Charge #2: Prosecution has Relied on Un-Attributable Hearsay and Has not Established the Element of Widespread and Systematic Attack
The Defense then turned to Charge 2 against Quader Molla, which pertains to the murder of poet Meherun Nesa, her mother, and two brothers on 27 March 1971 and which  is framed under Section 3(2)(a) for Crimes against Humanity and Section 3(2)(h) for complicity in or failure to prevent the commission of such crimes.  The Defense submitted that the testimony provided by prosecution witness #2,  Mr Syed Shahidul Hoque Mama, and prosecution witness #4. Qazi Rozi, referring to the involvement of the accused in this crime was un-attributable hearsay evidence. Prosecution Witness #10, Mr Abdul Qaiyum, made no reference regarding Quader Molla in terms of charge 2. Therefore the Defense argued the Prosecution had failed to meet its burden of proof on this charge.

The Defense further argued that Charge 2  refers to Quader Molla as one of the leaders of Islami Chatra Sangha and as well as a prominent figure of Al-Badar. They questioned whether Islami Chatra Shangho and Al-Badar may be considered to be auxiliary forces of the Pakistani Army, so as to bring their activity within the ambit of the implementation of “plan and policy” of the Pakistani forces, qualifying it as a systematic attack (The requirement of “systematic attack” was considered and defined during the counsel’s submission on 08.01.2013).

Charge 3: Based on Un-Attributable Hearsay
The Defense then turned to Charge 3, under which Qader Molla is charged with murder as a crime against humanity and complicity in such crimes for his alleged involvement in the murderof Khondoker Abu Taleb on 29 March 1971. The Defense again argued that the Prosecution’s case  is based on un-attributable hearsay and should not be given any probative weight.

Charge 4: No One Saw Qader Molla Directly or Substantially Participating in the Alleged Crimes
The Defense then argued that the Prosecution had not proven its case for Charge 4, pertaining to the killing of two unarmed freedom fighters – Osman Goni and Golam Mostafa – and an attack on the two villages of Bhawal Khan Bari and Ghotar Chaar on 25 November 1971, resulting in the killing of hundreds of civilians and burning homes. Under Charge 4 Qader Molla is charged with murder as a crime against humanity, aiding and abetting murder as a crime against humanity, and complicity in the commission of such crimes.

The Defense argued that the prosecution witness statements presented did not prove the allegations against the accused. Prosecution witness #1, Mojaffor Ahmed Khan testified that Abdul Majid informed him about a meeting held at Gatachor in the presence of Quader Molla, amongst others, whereby the decision to commit genocide of unarmed people was reached. Here, the witness did not see the presence of Molla but heard it from a third person. The Defense argued that such hearsay statements cannot be given probative weight. Even if the statements are considered to be true, all the other elements of the crime remain unproven. Prosecution Witness #1 in his cross examination stated that he did not see Qader Molla directly committing any crime. He simply saw him standing in front of Physical Training Institute with a Chinese Rifle.

The Defense further stated that prosecution witness #8, Nurjahan, who was only 12 years old during the liberation war, testified only that she heard from her father-in-law that her husband was killed by Qader Mollah. No reference as to the source from which her father-in-law came to know of this or whether he witnessed it himself was made by Nurjahan.

The Defense reiterated that mere presence is not enough to establish the crime of aiding or abetting, complicity or principal involvement. Furthermore they argued that un-attributed hearsay evidence should not be given probative weight and that thus the prosecution had not met its burden of proof for charge 4.

Charge 5: Defense Argued that The Prosecution’s Production of Only One Eye Witness to Such a Large Attack is Suspicious
The Defense then addressed Charge 5, under which Qader Molla is charged with murder as a crime against humanity, aiding and abetting murder as a crime against humanity, and complicity in such crimes for his alleged participation in a raid on the village of Alubdi (Pollobi, Mirpur) and the killing of 344 civilians on 24 April 1971. The Defense argued that given so many people were killed and such a high number of families were affected by the incident, there should have been numerous eye witnesses witnessing the incident of the mass killing. Instead, only one eye witness, Mr Shafiuddin Molla (PW6), testified for the prosecution as to Qader Molla’s involvement

The judges made a comment that the victims of this incident were not from that locality and hence their families could not have witnessed their killing.

Charge 6: Similarly, the Witness Testimony is Hearsay and Uncorroborated, therefore it is not Probative
Finally the Defense addressed Charge 6, under which Qader Molla is charged with murder as a crime against humanity, rape as a crime against humanity, aiding and abetting crimes against humanity and complicity in such crimes for his alleged involvement in the  murder of Hajrat Ali, Amina, their minor daughters Khatija and Tahmina and infant Babu and for the gang rape of a minor Amela on 26 March 1971. Momena Begum, prosecution witness 3, in support of these charges by referring to a tea boy, Kamal Khan, and her father-in-law Akkas Molla, who had told her that Quader Molla was the killer. The Defense again dismissed this testimony as insufficient to prove the charges because it was hearsay and uncorroborated.

Concluding for Today
The Defense concluded the days arguments by emphasized the fact that the majority of testimony provided by the prosecution witnesses in support of these charges falls within un-attributable hearsay, in addition to showing discrepancies and contradictions.  Apart from Mr Shafiuddin Molla (Prosecution Witness 6), none of of the witnesses testified claiming that they saw Quader Molla killing or participating in any of the alleged crimes. All others heard about the involvement of Quader Molla. The Defense argued that in the absence of corroborative evidence this type of testimony fails to prove guilt of the accused beyond a reasonable doubt.

8 Jan 2013: ICT 2 Daily Summary – Qader Molla Closing Arguments

Tribunal 2 (ICT 2)heard matters in the following cases:

Chief Prosecutor vs. Qader Molla: Defense Closing Arguments cont’d

The key legal points made by the defense were:

  • Bangladesh is not the appropriate venue for these trials because of the risk of bias resulting from the political and social pressures involved.
  • The court must consider international customary law when determining the requisite elements of the crimes alleged to have been committed by the accused, and the prosecution must prove each element beyond a reasonable doubt.
  • In order to prove “Crimes against Humanity,” the prosecution must prove that the accused committed crimes as part of a “widespread” or “systematic attack” directed against a civilian population by an armed force in an armed conflict..
  • Hearsay evidence, while admissable, has limited or no probative value unless corroborated by other supportive evidence if it falls within the category of un-attributable hearsay.

Trial Venue and Political and Social Pressures Presents Potential for Bias in Proceedings
On behalf of the Defense Abdul Razzaq began by reiterating that the trial should not have taken place in Bangladeshi territory, so as to address any potential perception of bias.  Referring to the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States in Dennis v United States (341 US 494-592), Mr Razzaq emphasized that the essential character of a judicial court must  be detachment founded on independence. He stated that history shows the independence of the judiciary is likely to become jeopardized when courts become responsibe for choosing between competing political, economic and social pressures. He submitted that this trial is one that involves passion as well as political and social pressures which might jeopardize the fairness and acceptability of the proceedings. Razzaq noted that none of the trials of similar nature took place in the country where the alleged crimes occurred.  He additionally cited to a Pakistani legal case: PLD 1989 SC 166, in support of this argument.

The Elements of the Crimes Charged Must be Proved as Under International Customary Law
After making submissions on the political nature of the trial, Mr Razzaq focused his arguments on the elements of crime pertaining to the 6 different charges faced by Mr Abdur Quader Molla. The Defense submitted that the judges sitting in ICT 2 should look into customary international law as it existed in 1971 during the liberation war, and evaluate whether each of the elements of the crimes established under that law has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt by the prosecution.

The Defense highlighted the similarity between the definition of “Crime against Humanity” under section 3(2)(a) of International Crimes (Tribunals) Act 1973 and Principle VI(c) of Charter of Neuremberg and submitted that the charge of “murder” referred to in these definitions is to be differentiated from that defined in Section 302 of the Bangladeshi Penal Code 1860, and that additional elements must be proved for an alleged act of murder to be construed as “Crime against Humanity“. The court must therefore look into laws that have become part of the customary international law to determine the requisite elements of crime.

Element of “Widespread” or “Systematic Attack” Must be Present 
The Defense then referred to Article 5 of the Statute of the International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (commonly referred to as “ICTY Statute”) and its interpretation by the Appeal Chambers in cases such as Prosecutor v Duško Tadić] (1999), the counsel stressed that in order for the alleged acts of the accused to amount to Crimes against Humanity, they must comprise “part of a pattern” of “widespread” or “systematic” attacks directed against a “civilian population.”  The Defense provided an example, stating that If a murder takes place over a piece of land between a rajakar and a freedom fighter during the period of 1971, the murder will not constitute a “crime against humanity” since it was not done as part of such pattern.

The Defense then elaborated on the meaning of “widespread,” noting that the commentary to the I.L.C. Draft Code (94-94) explains that the acts must be committed on a large scale, meaning that the acts are directed against a multiplicity of victims and thus this requirement excludes an isolated inhumane act committed by perpetrator acting on his own initiative and directed against a single victim. The Defense did note that the Appeal Chamber of the ICTY in the Vukovar Hospital Decision recognized that a single act by a perpetrator can constitute a crime against humanity.

As for the meaning of “systematic,” the Defense stated that the commentary to the I.L.C. Draft Code (94-94) further explains that inhumane acts amounting to Crimes against Humanity must be committed in a systematic manner pursuant to a preconceived plan or policy. Thus it cannot be a random occurrence.

Razzaq argued that the prosecution did not provide any evidence to show that the alleged acts of the Accused were committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack or plan.The Defense argued that the prosecution bears the burden to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Quader Molla‘s alleged activities fit into such a pattern and that he had knowledge of the same. One of the Judges commented to the affirmative that there should be a link between the accused and the plan or policy, if one existed.

Freedom Fighters May Not Be “Civilians” under International Customary Law
The Defense additionally raised the question of whether the court should consider the freedom fighters to be “civilians” as opposed to members of the Bangladeshi “armed forces” during the liberation war. They noted the fact that freedom fighters were in fact trained by and acted under the command of what was already recognized or referred to as the Bangladesh Armed Forces.

The Defense noted that the judgement of the Appeal Chamber of ICTY in the case Prosecutor v Tihomir Blaskic states that Article 50 of Additional Protocol I read with Article 4A of the Third Geneva Convention establishes that members of the armed forces, and members of militias or volunteer corps forming part of such armed forces, cannot claim civilian status.

The Defense therefore claimed that the prosecution has not addressed the requisite elements of Crimes against Humanity in its case against Qader Molla.

Hearsay Evidence Supporting Charge 1 is of Limited Probative Value
Having addressed these overarching legal questions the Defense then started to address each of the charges against Mr Abdul Quader Molla alongside the related evidential question of law. Mr. Razzaq began by critically evaluating the testimony of the prosecution witnesses in support of Charge 1, under which Quader Molla has been indicted for the alleged murder of one Pallab. The alleged facts are that Qader Molla forcibly abducted Pallab and detained him by hanging him from a tree in Idgah until he was shot to death by one Akhter. The Defense emphasized that all the evidence presented before the court on this charge is hearsay. They further argued that although hearsay is admissible under the ICT Act, it should be categorized as an “un-attributable hearsay” that has limited or no probative value unless corroborated by other reliable and supportive evidence. The Defense cited the decisions in cases such as ICC Prosecutor v. Katanga and Ngudjolo, ICC 01/04-01/07-717, ICC; ICC Prosecutor v Lubanga, ICC-01/04-01/06-803-tEN and ICTR Prosecutor v. Kajelijeli, ICTR-98-44A-T in support of this argument.

The Defense highlighted that Prosecution Witness #2, Syed Shahidul Haque Mama, and Prosecution Witness #10, Syed Abdul Kaium, both testified against Mollah in relation to Charge-1 but stated only that they had heard allegations “from the people”. The Defense argued that this genus of hearsay evidence is un-attributable and does not carry any probative value. Hence, although it may be proved that Pallab was killed, the fact that it was done upon the order of Quader Mollah cannot be proved beyond reasonable doubt on the basis of such un-attributable hearsay evidence.

The Defense further noted that Mossammat Sahera, Defense Witness #4, stated that she had”never even heard” the name of Quader Molla. They argued that this further negates his involvement because, as the sister-in-law of the victim, she would be the most likely to want justice and therefore her testimony in favor of Qader Molla’s innocence should carry greater weight.

The bench noted that it is the duty of the court to determine the probative value of any evidence admitted and adduced before it. They also noted that Defense Witness #4’s testimony was repeated and that “this creates some suspicion in our mind.”

The Defense’s closing arguments are scheduled to continue tomorrow, January 9, 2013.

7 Jan 2013: ICT 2 Daily Summary – Qader Molla Defense Closing Arguments

Today Tribunal 2 Heard the beginning of Defense Closing Arguments in the case of Chief Prosecutor v. Qader Molla:

Application for Review of Sanction Order
The court first heard an Application from the Defense requesting review its January 3, 2013 order imposing a sanction of BDT 10,000 on the Accused for submitting repetitive applications as a delay tactic.

The Defense submitted that its application for review of the order denying the permission to produce additional witness was submitted upon the decision of the lawyer without the express instruction of the Accused, and that therefore the lawyer should be held responsible instead of the client.

The court adjusted its order stating that the counsel of the accused moving the review application should pay the fine out of his own pocket, although the amount is reduced to BDT 5,000. The court stated the fine was for the failure of the counsel to take specific instructions from the client in regards to the course of action and for failing to act accordingly.

Application for Retrial by a New and Reformed Bench
The Defense then addressed its application for retrial in the Case of Qader Molla. It argued that  it had made similar submissions in other cases based on the perception of bias and improper influence by the former chairman who was part of alleged skype conversations with an outside legal expert based in Brussels (Dr. Ziauddin) who also worked closely with the Prosecution.  The Defense argued that the application should be pressed in the instant case so that it to appears on records. The Defense stated that If the application is to be rejected, the court should announce its reasons in respect of arguments made in this particular application.

The Tribunal responded that its order would not be any different from its orders on other retrial applications unless the Defense introduced new or exceptional arguments to convince the court to the contrary.

Defense Closing Arguments for the case against Qader Molla
The Defense then moved to closing arguments. Senior Defense Counsel Abdur Razzaque made the following legal arguments:

  • The International Crimes (Tribunals) Act 1973 was enacted for the purpose of prosecuting the 195 Pakistani Prisoners of War held after independence and is not appropriate for use against citizens of Bangladesh
  • The Bangladesh Collaborators (Special Tribunal) Order of 1972 was designed for the prosecution of the rajakars and other collaborators acting as auxiliary forces for the Pakistani Army.
  • The executive decision not to prosecute the 195 POWs was given in respect for the Tripartite agreement between Bangladesh, India and Pakistan in 1974, and is similar to a judicial discharge of the cases.
  • Where the principal offenders of a crime are not prosecuted, the judiciary cannot prosecute alleged aiders and abettors.
  • There has been a 40 year delay in lodging formal charges against the accused without any reasonable satisfactory explanation.
  • The true purpose of the trial is malafide due to political and executive interference and a perception of bias.

The ICT Act of 1973 is not the Appropriate Law under which to Prosecute Collaborators
The Defense argued that the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act of 1973 was enacted with the purpose of prosecuting the then 195 Pakistani Army Prisoners Of War. The law was not envisioned as the basis for prosecuting citizens of Bangladesh. Defense counsel cited the Parliamentary debate on the First Amendment to the Constitution on 3 July 1973, followed by the Parliamentary Debate on the International Crimes (Tribunals) Bill of 1973, on 20 May 1973 as proof that the legislative intent of the ICT Act did not encompass the prosecution of citizens or collaborators.

The Defense asserted that the Bangladesh Collaborators (Special Tribunal) Order of 1972 was the law designated for the prosecution of the rajakars and other collaborators. This law applied only to rajakars over whom the commander of the Pakistan armed forces had full control, similar in degree to that exercised over members of the army. Rajakars who acted under the control of the Pakistani Army would thus be considered auxillary forces.The Defense cited the preamble of the act claiming that it showed it was meant to be used to try those who aided or abetted the Pakistan Armed Forces by contributing to crimes against humanity and genocide.

The judges responded that the Schedule of this President’s Order refers to offences under the Bangladeshi Penal Code and makes no reference to genocide and crime against humanity. Accordingly, it could not act as the complete law to try the Rajakars.

The Defense then argued that the government of Bangladesh issued an executive decision not to prosecute the 195 POWs as part of the Tripartite Agreement between Bangladesh, Pakistan and India. The Defense claimed that the decision not to prosecution is similar to a judicial discharge of the case.

The judges weighed in, stating that the decision not to prosecute was an executive decision, not a discharge in the judicial sense.They stated that the executive decision remains open to challenge.

Where Principal Offenders are not Prosecuted, Abettors Should Not Be Either
The Defense continued its argument, stating that because the governement had made the decision not to try the principal offenders (the POWs), by law, the abettors usually cannot be tried by themselves. They cited to the cases 16 DLR 147, 54 DLR 298, PLD 1961 Lah 212.(WCSC is obtaining the names of these cases and will update).

The judges responded that the facts of these cases distinguish them from the instant case.

40 Year Delay in Prosecution Gives Rise to Perception of Bias and Abuse of Process
The Defense then argued that no explanation has been given as to why there has been a 40 year delay in prosecuting these alleged collaborators. Such absence of explanation gives rise to the question of whether these trials are an abuse of process. Such doubts may be fatal to the prosecution. The Defense cited 44 DLR 492 in support of this argument. (WCSC is obtaining the name of this case and will update).

Furthermore, the Defense argued that the conclusion that the proceedings are being persued with malafide intention and for political purposes may be deduced from the surrounding circumstances and executive interference. Razzaq cited to AIR 1967 SC 483. (WCSC is obtaining the name of this case and will update)

Finally, the Defense argued that the trial should not have taken place in Bangladeshi territory, because of the potential perception of bias and the likely prejudice to the judicial process. Razzaq referred to the Lockerbie Air Disaster case, involving an U.S. plane crash on Scottish territory for which the trial took place in Netherlands.

The Defense will continue its submissions tomorrow.

Dynamics Outside of Court
At the beginning of the court session the Defense Counsel notified the Court of the fact that unlike prosecution lawyers, lawyers representing the defense were not allowed to enter the court premises with their cars, which they claimed to be discriminatory. The Judges aligned themselves against such differing treatment giving assurance that the matter will be looked into immediately upon a brief conference addressing security issues.

3 January 2013: Tribunal 2 Daily Summary

Tribunal 2 heard matters in the following cases:

  1. Chief Prosecutor vs. Qader Molla -Defense petition for review of order dying permission to produce additional witnesses
  2. Chief Prosecutor vs. Ali Ahsan Mohammed Mujahid – Cross examination of Prosecution Witness #11 [See here for more detail]
  3. Chief Prosecutor vs. Muhammad Kamaruzzaman – application for retrial hearing [see here for more detail]
  • The Counsel for Defense made request for a later hearing date of the review application filed a for reconsideration of the tribunal’s decision denying the permission to produce additional defense witnesses. The request was immediately denied orally, along with the request for two hours of time for enabling the Senior Defense Counsel to appear. The Tribunal required the Counsel for Defense to make submissions instantaneously. The Tribunal rejected the review application reasoning that the ICT rules of procedure contain no provision allowing the defense to call additional witnesses and noting that only the prosecution may do so. The Tribunal further stated that the application was virtually identical to one rejected earlier, and that it must have been submitted in order to cause delay in the proceedings. The rejection was accompanied by a sanction of 10,000 BDT imposed on the Defense for submitting repetitive applications.
  • The court then moved to Mujahid’s case wherein the prosecution witness PW-11, Mr Foyez Uddin Ahmad, was cross examined by the defense counsel. 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 based on the coaching of the Prosecution, and that the witness neither knew the accused, nor was he capable of recognizing him.
  • Finally, the Court heard at length the application filed on behalf of Muhammad Kamaruzzam for the recall of the order by which the Tribunal took cognizance of the charges against him and for a full and complete retrial. The Defense argued that the perception of bias created by the leaked Skype and email conversations between the former ICT 1 Chairman and outside legal expert Dr. Ziauddin prejudiced the Accused’s right to fair trial and therefore necessitate a retrial. They supported these arguments with international legal precedents.  The court denied the application, firmly rejecting any such possibility of bias and condemning the content of Skype conversation. They stated that the statements in the Skype conversations were at all true, they reflected only on the former Chairman and Dr. Ziauddin. The Tribunal then passed  a suo moto order requiring Mr Ziaduddin, the Brussels based Bangladeshi international law expert, to explain, within 30 days from the receipt of this order, why contempt proceedings shall not be commence for his Skype conversations with the retired chairman of ICT-1 and the appearance that he was attempting to interfere with the independence of the tribunal. Prosecution witness PW-16 who was present expressed his inability to give testimony on that day due to his sudden illness.