SC verdict in Quader Molla appeals todayM Moneruzzaman
The Appellate Division will deliver today its verdict in the two appeal petitions against the life term sentence handed to Jamaat leader Abdul Quader Molla for his 1971 war crimes.
On July 23, a five member Appellate Division bench ended hearing both the appeal petitions and reserved the pronouncement of the verdict for a later date.
Both the appeals were listed on Monday afternoon as item number one for delivering the verdict on Tuesday.
Chaired by chief justice Md Muzammel Hossain, the bench comprises Justice SK Sinha, Justice MA Wahhab Miah and Justice AHM Shamsuddin Choudhury.
Supreme Court registrar AKM Shamsul Islam told New Age that he had asked
the Dhaka Metropolitan Police commissioner to ensure tight security in and around the court premises.
‘The police have been asked to provide tight security,’ he added.
There will be restrictions on the entry of lawyers, their assistants, litigants, court officers, he said.
Journalists were asked to carry identity cards.
Additional police and other law enforcement personnel were deployed at all the Supreme Court entrances and around the court building since Monday night following as the word spread that the verdict would be delivered on Monday.
The law enforcement forces were later withdrawn at about 11.30AM.
It will be the first-ever verdict in appeal petitions filed by the two sides since the two ICTs handed down sentences in six war crimes cases.
Appeal petitions of death row war crimes convicts of three Jamaat leaders Delwar Hossain Sayedee, Mohammad Kamaruzzaman and Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed are pending with the Appellate Division.
The appeals against the sentence to imprisonment for 90 years handed to former Jamaat amir Golam Azam are also pending with the Appellate Division.
Of the four appeals, Sayedee’s case is listed as item number 21 for hearing by the Appellate Division Tuesday.
Former Jamaat member Abul Kalam Azad, better known as Bachhu Razakar was sentenced to death in absentia. Being a fugitive Azad forfeited his right to appeal.
On February 5, the Intentional Crimes Tribunal-2 sentenced Quader to life term for his 1971 war crimes.
On March 3, the chief war crimes prosecutor, Golam Arief Tipoo filed an appeal against ‘inadequate sentence’ of Quader on five charges and against his acquittal from another charge.
Quader filed his appeal petition on March 4 seeking setting his sentence aside.
The Appellate Division took up both the appeal petition for hearing on April 1.
Quader was sentenced to life term on charges of crimes against humanity for killing 300 to 350 people at Alubdi in Pallabi in Dhaka city on April 24, 1971 and for killing Hazrat Ali Lasker and his family members at Mirpur Circle 12 on March 26, 1971.
He was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment on three other charges of ‘complicity’ in killing Mirpur Bangla College student Pallab alias Tuntuni at Eidgah Maidan at Mirpur Circle 12 on April 5, 1971, for ‘complicity’ in the slaughter of poet Meherunnesa, her elderly mother and two brothers at her house at Mirpur on March 27, 1971 and for ‘complicity’ in killing journalist Khondaker Abu Taleb at Mirpur killing field on March 29, 1971.
Quader was acquitted of two other charges: of attending a ‘conspiracy meeting’ on the night of November 23, 1971 and of committing murders at Ghatarchar of Keraniganj in Dhaka on November 25, 1971.
Attorney general Mahbubey Alam submitted that the government felt aggrieved at 15 years’ simple sentence handed to Quader in three war crimes offences and life term on two other charges.
Quader deserves death sentences in each of the six charges of crimes against humanity proved beyond reasonable doubts, he submitted.
Mahbub pleaded for Quader’s death sentence.
Quader’s counsel Abdur Razzaq pleaded that the amended International Crimes (Tribunals) Act 1973- that empowered the government to file appeals against acquittal or inadequate sentence in war crime verdict- cannot be applicable in Quader’s case.
Razzaq submitted that the government appeal was not maintainable as the amendment to the 1973 regarding government right to appeal was made when Quader’s case was closed and concluded by sentencing him by the tribunal.
He said that the two International Crimes Tribunals and any Appellate Court in Bangladesh should take into account the customary international law in war crimes cases.
Razzaq also said that Quader was sentenced based on ‘hearsay evidence’ and it is impossible to uphold Quader’s sentence based on the ‘weak prosecution and the witnesses examined during the trial.’
Razzaq, however, admitted that the Appellate Division was empowered under Article 104 of the constitution to reduce or enhance sentences given by any court in any cases to ensure justice.
In reply, Mahbub submitted that the government appeal was maintainable and applicable to Quader as the enactment was given with retrospective effect from July 14, 2009.
Mahbub also said that the customary international law would not be applicable to the trials of individual war crime accused in Bangladesh. He also termed the ICT as a domestic tribunal, and international law would not be applicable to domestic tribunals.
The Appellate Division heard seven senior lawyers TH Khan, Rafique-ul Huq, M Amirul Islam, Mahmudul Islam, Rokanuddin Mahmud, and Ajmalul Hossain as amici curiae (friends of the court) on questions of applicability of the customary international law and the maintainability of the government appeal to convict Quader.
Of the seven amici curiae, TH Khan and Hassan Ariff gave similar opinion that the amended 1973 act would not be applicable to the case of Quader.
Rafique, Mahmudul, Amirul, Rokan and Ajmalul gave identical views saying that the amended act would be applicable in the case and the government had the right to appeal against inadequate sentence handed to Quader.
Three lawyers TH Khan, Amirul and Ariff viewed that the customary international law should be applicable to the war crimes cases in Bangladesh.
Rafique, Mahmudul, Rokan, and Ajmalul said that the customary international law would not be applicable in Bangladesh’s war crimes cases.
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