Jamaat Leaders to be Kept in Custody
Tuesday, 03 August 2010

In its second ruling on Monday, the International Crimes Tribunal ordered four top leaders of the fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami to be held in custody until further orders. UPDATES

Jamaat chief Matiur Rahman Nizami, secretary general Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed, assistant secretary general Muhammad Kamaruzzaman and Abdul Quader Molla were sent back to Dhaka Central Jail after a brief hearing that lasted barely 15 minutes.

The hearing ended at around 10:45am on Monday with the judges sending the quartet off to jail after taking their attendance.

The tribunal also asked authorities to keep them arrested and adjourned the hearing without specifying a date for the next hearing.

The four have been charged with crimes against humanity during nation's war of independence in 1971.

The hearing started minutes after the quartet was produced before the court in the hearing chamber around 10:30am.

Around 9:55am, the Jamaat leaders were brought in from the jail under tight security in a police van. which was surrounded on all sides by six pick-up vans.

Tough security measures were taken in and around the court premises as well.

Additionally RAB and police forces, plainclothesmen were also on duty. Close circuit cameras and archways were set up all through the court premises.

The men were taken to the court's custody chamber at 9:58am.

Justices ATM Fazle Kabir, Md Nizamul Huq and AKM Zahir Ahmed were already present at the court.

Earlier, Dhaka Central Jail authorities said that the suspects will be produced before the court at 10am on Monday.

This tribunal, on July 26 ordered the quartet to be produced before it on Monday (Aug 2) after hearing a petition pleading to show the Jamaat leaders arrested in a case that charged them with crimes against humanity during the war in 1971.

Tough security measures were taken in and around the court premises. Beside RAB and police forces, plainclothesmen were also on duty.

In his ruling on Monday, the tribunal chairman said that the suspected men had been brought before the tribunal following his previous orders. "The suspected persons are now present in the dock, "he said.

He said that he had seen the report of the investigation officer who stated that "the warrant of arrest could not be executed on the four suspected persons as they were already in prison in relation to different cases".

The tribunal chairman then ordered the "suspected persons be sent back to prison" to await further orders from the court. Prior to the order, advocates Tajul Islam and Jaynul Abedin tried to make an application to the tribunal on behalf of the four defendants.

The lawyer said that he had three applications – an application seeking the execution of the letter of authority, an application seeking certified copies of the complaint against them and other orders passed by the tribunal, and an application praying for a recall of the warrant of arrest.

The tribunal chief, however, stated that before making any application, it must be lodged with the registrar. "We have some procedures in this court," he said.

In order to make an application, the defence lawyer must first serve it on the prosecutors, then file it with the registrar who will then pass it to the tribunal to set a date for hearing.

Barrister Muhammad Nazibur Rahman, representing the defendants, told bdnews24.com that the lawyers did not yet have copies of any documents.

Tribunal registrar Mohammed Shahinur Islam explained to bdnews24.com that at the last hearing the court had ordered that the arrestees should be given a copy of the arrest warrant and the complaint made against them. "But because the warrant of arrest could not be executed as the men were in jail, this was not possible."

After the court session ended, Abedin told reporters that they had submitted power of attorneys' on behalf of the four leaders and that the court had accepted it.

After the four men had been sent back to jail, Mofidul Huq, a trustee of the Liberation War Museum, told bdnews24.com that "this was a great scene for everyone. The four prime men accused of committing crimes against humanity were seen in the dock. These men saw how justice will operate.

"For the whole nation, though this was a short session, it has great significance (and) not only for Bangladesh but the rest of the world."

More than 20 lawyers, including Golam Mohammad Chowdhury Alal, Jashim Uddin Sarker, Ferdous Akhter Wahida, and Farid Uddin Khan, were present on behalf of the Jamaat quartet.

War crime prosecutor panel chief Golam Arif Tipu and prosecution panel members, Sayed Rezaur Rahman, Sayed Haidar Ali, Ziad Al Malum, Abdur Rahman Hawlader, and Altaf Hossain were also present at the court.

Additional attorney generals MK Rahman, Murad Reza, Mamtaz Uddin Fakir and senior lawyer Yusuf Hossain Humayun were also present on behalf of the government.

A number of demonstrators from 'Amra Muktijoddhar Sontan' (We are children of freedom fighters) demonstrated at the entrance of the court when the four Jamaat leaders, charged with committing crimes against humanity during the liberation war in 1971, were being brought in.

The demonstrators were chanting angry slogans against the fundamentalist political party, demanding exemplary punishment.

Nizami, Mojaheed, Kamaruzzaman and Molla have several other cases against them including one involving the murder of freedom fighters, which was filed against them in the capital's Pallabi and Keraniganj police stations.

The long-awaited trial of war criminals started on Mar 25 when the Awami League-led government established a war crimes tribunal, prosecutors' panel and investigation agency.

Source: bdnews24.com

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