Law minister Barrister Shafique Ahmed today said an official announcement on the constitution of the second International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) was expected by Sunday.
“We are expecting the presidential nod to our proposal for the second tribunal by tomorrow and the official gazette notification by Sunday,” the minister told BSS.
Ahmed added: “We need to expedite the trial process reducing pressures on the lone International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) as investigations of several cases were completed and ready for trial”.
His comments came as officials familiar with the process said a member of the existing three-member tribunal was suggested to be made the chair of the second tribunal.
They said Justice Obaidul Hasan and registrar of the present tribunal Shahinur Islam were expected to be made as two other members of the new specialized court while Justice Anwarul Haque will replace Kabir at the first tribunal.
The development came as two months after the government decided to set up the second tribunal to expedite trial of the perpetrators of “crimes against humanity” during the Liberation War in 1971 as the first one was already in session.
Officials said the Old High Court Building was already furnished for war crimes tribunals relocating the Law Commission elsewhere which was housed at there.
State minister for law Qamrul Islam earlier said the 2nd tribunal was required to be constituted to complete the ongoing trial of the accused within “expected timeframe”.
The law minister and state minister, however, declined to predict how long the tribunals might need to accomplish already lodged cases against eight high profile suspects belonging to Jamaat-e-Islam and main opposition BNP but said the progress of the process suggested several of them could be completed by June this year.
Sources at the special Investigation cell of the ICT earlier said investigations were underway against more war crime suspects but they declined to disclose their names for the sake of investigation.
“More number of accused could be included in the list after investigations and therefore another tribunal would be needed to expedite their trial,” Shafique earlier said.
The first ICT was constituted in March last year along with a special investigation agency and a prosecution cell in line with the election pledges of the ruling Awami League to expose to trial the war criminals.
Five of the eight high-profile war crime suspects detained so far to face the trial belonged to Jamaat-e-Islami, while the rest two were of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).
They are Jamaat chief Motiur Rahman Nizami, Secretary General Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid and assistant secretaries general Muhammad Kamaruzzaman and Abdul Quader Molla and party leader Delwar Hossain Sayeedi.
The two BNP leaders are Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury, MP, and former minister Abdul Alim while process was underway to indict the then chief of the erstwhile East Pakistan unit chief of Jamaat Professor Ghulam Azam was underway.
If convicted the accused could face the highest death penalty and the lowest 10 years of imprisonment for crimes like massacre, murders, arsons and rapes but under the International Crimes Tribunal Act the convicts could file appeals before the apex Appellate Division of the Supreme Court.