Jamaat-e-Islami Ameer Motiur Rahman Nizami did not commit any crime against humanity during the Liberation War, rather strongly criticised the attacks of Pakistani army on the Bangalees, Nizami’s counsel told the International Crimes Tribunal-1 yesterday.
“During the Liberation War in 1971, on many occasions, the petitioner [Nizami] strongly criticised the Pakistan army for their attacks on Bangalees,” said Tajul Islam, one of the counsels for Nizami, while reading out a petition of the Jamaat chief.
“However, his speeches [delivered during the Liberation War] were never reported in the newspapers because of the censorship regulations then in effect,” the defence counsel added.
Tajul Islam read out the petition filed by Nizami with the tribunal, seeking his discharge from the charges brought against him by the prosecution in December last year.
The tribunal — the first of two courts formed to deal with crimes committed during the Liberation War — adjourned the hearing till today while the defence will place their argument supporting the discharge petition.
The prosecution submitted formal war crimes charges against the former minister of the BNP-led alliance government and brought 20 specific charges against him on December 11, 2011.
The charges include genocide, rape, torture, abduction and confinement of Bangalee people in greater Pabna, Jessore, Chittagong and Dhaka, and abetment of and attempt or conspiracy to perform such acts during the War.
The prosecutor finished reading out 73-page formal charges on March 15 after the three-member tribunal headed by Justice Md Nizamul Huq took the charges into cognisance on January 9.
During yesterday’s proceedings, Tajul Islam said no proceedings have ever been instituted against Nizami in the last 40 years. Neither an FIR nor any petition has ever been filed against him with any police station or court in Bangladesh.
The current charges against his client cannot be framed as the prosecution provide and rely on both an insufficient legal basis and contain insufficient factual information, said Tajul.
He added if the charges are framed on such grounds, it would result in an unfair trial by both domestic and international standards.
In the 33-page petition, the counsel said throughout its proposed indictment, the prosecution has failed to specify which crime as a crime against humanity has been committed.
The tribunal yesterday allowed two of Nizami’s counsels to visit him in jail on April 21 to prepare the case. It also exempted the Jamaat chief from personal appearance today as he has to appear before a Chittagong court tomorrow.
Nizami, who was produced before the tribunal yesterday, is among six Jamaat and two BNP leaders facing crimes against humanity charges at the tribunal.
REVIEW PETITION OF SQ CHOWDHURY
The defence counsel of BNP leader Salauddin Quader Chowdhury yesterday placed argument on a review petition filed against an order by the tribunal rejecting his discharge petition on March 13.
The three-member tribunal adjourned the hearing till today while defence counsel Fakrul Islam is supposed to place his argument on another petition seeking recall of the BNP leader’s indictment order.
The tribunal framed 23 specific charges against the detained BNP lawmaker in connection with genocide and crimes against humanity committed during the Liberation War on April 4.
He was produced before the tribunal yesterday.