WAR CRIMES TRIAL
SQC verdict todayTapos Kanti Das
International Crimes Tribunal-1 will deliver its verdict today in the war crimes case of Salauddin Quader Chowdhury, MP.
Taking up the record for setting the schedule at the outset of Monday’s hearing, the presiding judge, Justice ATM Fazle Kabir, said that the verdict, kept reserved earlier, was ready for pronouncement.
The verdict would be ‘pronounced tomorrow’ he told at the full court hearing attended by two other colleagues, Justice Md Jahangir Hossain and Justice Md Anwarul Haque.
Better known as war crimes tribunal, the two ICTs were set up for bringing the suspects of 1971 crimes against humanity to justice.
This will be the seventh war crimes case verdict in the independent Bangladesh and the third verdict of the ICT-1 since its establishment on March 25, 2010.
The ICT-2 has so far delivered verdicts in four war crimes cases since its founding on March 22, 2012.
On August 14, on completion of hearing both the sides, ICT-1 reserved its judgment in Salauddin’s war crimes case for pronouncement at a later date.
Salauddin, 65, was tried on 23 counts of crimes against humanity.
On April 4, 2012, Salauddin was indicted on the charges of genocide, murders, abductions, torture in confinement, loot, arson attacks and complicity in other atrocities committed in Chittagong during the Liberation War.
Security has been tightened in and around the old High Court complex housing the two ICTs ahead of the verdict, registrar AKM Nasiruddin Mahmud told New Age.
He said that the tribunal had directed the prison authorities to produce Salauddin before it by 10 AM today.
On Monday evening, Salauddin was shifted from Kashimpur Central Jail (Part-1) to Dhaka Central Jail for the convenience of his production in the tribunal.
October 1 would be another historic day for the ICT-1, as on this day it is due to pronounce its third war crimes case verdict, prosecutor Zead-Al-Malum told a news briefing.
‘We expect capital punishment for the accused,’ he said.
He said that the prosecution proved 17 out of 23 charges against Salauddin beyond any shadow of doubt.
‘It’s a long awaited verdict,’ he said.
The prosecution produced no witness to prove six of the charges against the accused.
Salauddin’s defence counsel AKM Fakhrul Islam, in his closing arguments in the case earlier said the prosecution failed to prove the charges and hoped that his client would be acquitted.
Earlier, the ICT-1 sentenced former Jamaat chief Ghulam Azam to 90 years’ imprisonment and Jamaat leader Delwar Hossain Sayedee to death.
The ICT- 2 handed down death sentences to absconding former Jamaat member Abul Kalam Azad, Jamaat leaders Mohammad Kamaruzzaman and Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed.
The Appellate Division handed death sentence to Jamaat leader Abdul Quader Molla by overturning his life term given by ICT-2.
Salauddin awaits the verdict for offences punishable under Section 20(2) of the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act 1973.
The ICT Section prescribes death sentence or other punishment proportionate to the gravity of the crimes if the accused is found guilty of the charges.
The prosecution produced 41 witnesses to prove the charges against Salauddin.
Four defence witnesses including Salauddin himself testified pleading his innocence saying that the accused left the country on March 29, 1971 and returned in April 1974, in other words as he was not present at the crime spots during the Liberation War it was not possible for him to commit the crimes.
He was elected MP from different constituencies in Chittagong since 1979.
Son of the then Convention Muslim League leader the late Fazlul Qader Chowdhury, Salauddin comes from Chittagong.
Goods Hill is his paternal home in the port city.
The prosecution laid the formal charges against Salauddin on November 14, 2011 and the ICT-1 took them into cognizance on November 17, 2011.
Salauddin was shown arrested in the war crimes case and produced before the Tribunal on November 02, 2010.
Salauddin was a minister in the Ershad’s government in the 1980s. He was also a Jatiya Party leader and was elected to parliament on its tickets.
Salauddin quit Jatiya Party the second half of the 1980s.
He founded his own party National Democratic Party and elected MP representing his party.
In 1996, Salauddin and his NDP took part in the Awami League-led movement against the then BNP government that saw the introduction of non-party caretaker government for holding parliamentary polls.
Later, he joined BNP and was elected to parliament on its tickets.
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