Tag Archives: retrial

16 Jan 2013: ICT 1 Daily Summary – Sayedee and Golam Azam

NOTE TO THE READER: Today opposition parties called a hartal (strike) for half the day. AIJI’s researcher was unable to attend the proceedings because of the strike. (transport to and from court becomes quite dangerous during such strikes) These notes regarding the proceedings for today were compiled through other persons present at the tribunal including the Defense team and journalist coverage. The prosecution team was also asked to verify their accuracy but did not respond before publication The WCSC has done its best to insure the neutrality of the notes from today but cannot guarantee their accuracy. Please bring any discrepancies to our attention.

The Tribunal heard matters in the following cases:

  1. Chief Prosecutor vs. Delwar Hossain Sayedee – Prosecution Closing Arguments
  2. Chief Prosecutor vs. Sayedee, Golam Azam, and Nizami – Hearing of Application for Review of Order Denying Retrial

Due to the half day hartal a junior member for the Defense requested adjournment until 2pm. The Tribunal granted his request and convened for the afternoon session.

Chief Prosecutor vs. Sayedee, Golam Azam, and Nizami
Yesterday, January 15, 2013 the hearing of the Review application began in the cases of Sayedee, Golam Azam and Nizami. Defense counsel Abdur Razzaq completed his arguments on behalf of the Accused.

Today Haider Ali gave a reply on behalf of the prosecution. He raised an objection regarding the Defense referring to the Order rejecting the retrial application as a ‘impugned order’ in their petition. He submitted that the Defense’s challenge of the usage of  the term ‘alleged’ in reference to the skype conversations between the former chairman and Ziauddin was also objectionable. He submitted that as the Defense introduced the skype and e-mail communications, the burden was on them to prove their contents. He argued that the existence of the conversations is established but not their content. Continue reading

7 January 2013: Tribunal 1 Daily Summary – Golam Azam and Sayedee

The Tribunal heard matters pertaining to the following cases:

  1. Chief Prosecutor vs Golam Azam – Defens e Case-in-Chief 
  2. Chief Prosecutor vs Delwar Hossain Sayedee  – contempt proceedings brought by Defense

The Tribunal adjourned Golam Azam’s case for today on the grounds that the Defense will file a review application for the review off the Jan. 3rd order rejecting his request for retrial. They claimed that they did not receive a certified copy of the order and could not file the review application until they did.  Mizanul Islam, senior Defence Counsel, assured the Tribunal that the Defense would produce its witness Abdullahil Aman Azmi, Defense Witness #1m on 8 January 2013.

The Defense Counsels of Sayedee informed the Tribunal that they had filed contempt petitions against Masudur Rahman of  ATN News and against BTV. The Tribunal then fixed 9 January 2013 for the hearing of these applications.

Case: Chief Prosecutor vs Gulam Azam
Defence Witness #1,  Abdullahil Aman Azmi, began providing testimony on November 13, 2012 and has not yet completed. The Defense failed to produce him on a couple of occasions and the Tribunal at one point barred the Defense from producing further Defense Witnesses unless the Defense provided a satisfactory explanation for their failure. Today was fixed for argument in the matter.  Senior Defence Counse, Mizanul Islam, assured the Tribunal that the witness will be produced tomorrow and sought adjournment.

Prosecutor Zead-Al-Malum raised an objection to the Defense’s request and said that the Defense had made similar excuses before and still failed to produce their witness. He asked the Tribunal to begin closing arguments or to impose a fine against the Defense.

The Tribunal then passed a written order stating that for the ends of justice the application filed by the Defence would be scheduled for hearing tomorrow on the ground that the Defense will file a review application of the order dated 03-01-2013. The order noted that Mizanul Islam had assured the Tribunal that the Defense would produce its witness on 8 January 2013.

Outside the Courtroom
Chairman A.T.M Fazle Kabir was absent from the Tribunal as he is on leave. Mizanul Islam informed  the Tribunal that today Defense attorneys were not allowed to take their cars inside the Tribunal gate. Justice Jahangir Hossain told him to wait until Chairman A.T.M Fazle Kabir returned to present the matter. Mizanul Islam further stated that the Defense had been told that only two family members of the accused will be allowed to visit the Tribunal. Accused Golam Azam was brought to the Tribunal but did not appear in the courtroom, reportedly because he was feeling sick.

Tribunal adjourned at 11:45am

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.

3 Jan 2013: Kamaruzzaman Retrial Application Hearing

Chief of Prosecution vs. Kamaruzzaman
Tribunal 2 heard the Defense’s application to recall the order taking cognizance of the charges against Kamaruzzaman and to order a full and complete retrial by a new and reformed bench. The Defense’s arguments focused on the following issues:

  • Issue of bias, breach of natural justice, and the necessity of retrial following the Skype controversy.
  • Public opinion and perception of judicial fairness, independence and neutrality of ICT-2 is an essential aspect of fair trial.
  • Doctrine of procedural bias and its relevance to the instant case.
  • Admissibility of evidence obtained through impropriety or illegality.
  • Contempt proceedings issued against Dr. Ziauddin for attempting to obstruct the independent proceedings of the Court.

Key Arguments of the Defense

Perceived Bias Jeopardizes Fair Trial
The Defense asserted that the present bench of Tribunal 2, with the presence of Judge Shahinul Islam, should not try the instant case and there should be a complete retrial based on the perception that he may have been influenced while working in close proximity with the former chairman of ICT-1 Mr Justice Mohammad Nizamul Haque, who resigned following the Skype controversy. The Defense did not allege that actual bias was present, but focused on the importance of perceived neutrality and independence on the part of the judiciary in order to insure fair trial. The Defense stated that even if the record of the Skype conversations was illegally obtained or the contents are untrue (though they noted there has been no such allegation), the public confidence on all associated with the instant benches of ICT has been adversely affected, requiring a retrial to uphold the legitimacy of the entire trial. They cited the judicial maxim “justice need not only be done but be seen to be done”. In the event that the judiciary or a particular trial is perceived to involve bias or breach of natural justice, The Defense argued there should be rearrangement in the Bench. The Defense drew an analogy to the case Re Pinochet (1999) HL, involving the trial of Senator Pinochet who was the head of State of Chile from 1973 until 1990 for various crimes against humanity. In this case, the House of Lords unanimously opined that there was a real danger or reasonable apprehension or suspicion that the  presence of Lord Hoffmann sitting in judgment could give rise to the appearance of bias because his wife worked for Amnesty International and he served as a Chairman for the organization and the organization had intervened and effectively become a party to the litigation. Counsel for Senator Pinochet submitted that such links gave rise to a reasonable apprehension or suspicion on the part of a fair minded and informed member of the public that Lord Hoffmann might have been biased. Giving importance to the possibility of such perception, their Lordships held that it was appropriate to direct a re-hearing of the appeal before an entirely different committee that shall neither include Lord Hoffmann nor the others who had already expressed their conclusion of the points at issue.

Reply by the Prosecution
The prosecution argues that the Skype conversations are material obtained through hacking, which in itself is a crime, and therefore should be considered inadmissible.

Secondly, the Prosecution alleged that the focus on the Skype conversations and their initial leak is a part of a plot to attack the sanctity of the tribunal and disrupt the proceedings. They urged the Tribunal not to allow any such interference, implying that they should deny applications for retrial based on the skype controversy. The Prosecution noted that one of its own members (Prosecutor Saiful Islam) was also referred to in the Skype conversation and that the Prosecution Counsel will soon take appropriate actions. What kind of action they plan to take was not specified.

Conclusions of Tribunal 2
Having heard the Defense’s application and the reply of the Prosecution, Tribunal 2 stated issued its order. It noted that it is agreed that people’s perception of justice and the tribunal is very important to upholding the reliability of the orders of the tribunal. However, the application for retrial based on the perception of there being bias is not appropriate.

Tribunal 2 rejected the application by stating that it is not maintainable under law as no provision exists  in the rules of procedure for the ICT that allow for an order of retrial. Additionally, the tribunal noted that Judge Shahinul Islam was never a judge at Tribunal 1, he was only the then acting Registrar for the ICT. Therefore the allegation that he could be biased by the actions of the former Chairman of Tribunal 1 are unfounded. Furthermore, the Skype conversations, if at all true, reflect the dislike of the former Chairman and Dr. Ziauddin towards Judge Shahinul Islam, which further exemplifies that he was not a part of any bias or collusion etc. Finally, the decision to take cognizance of the charges against Kamaruzzaman was not taken by the single former chairman of ICT-1, but by the entire bench upon consultation with each other. This decision is based on the presentation of evidence and formal charges by the Prosecution and was not influenced by bias. Therefore the application for retrial based on alleged bias is without merit and must be rejected.

Notes Regarding the Demeanor of the Court
The Defense Counsel expressed discomfort in presenting the application and making submissions alleging biasness. Proceedings were polite and apologetic.

The judges agreed on the general point of the public’s negative impression on the role of the tribunals following the Skype controversy, but the Tribunal was firm in denying the possibility of any actual bias whatsoever or finding any legal basis for such an allegation.