Charges pressed against Ghulam AzamWar crimes trial
The prosecution for war crimes trial on Monday pressed charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and abetment or conspiracy for and complicity in the commission of such crimes against former Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami amir Ghulam Azam.
The prosecution submitted to the International Crimes Tribunal the formal charges on 52 counts against Ghulam Azam who was the Jamaat amir in 1971.
The prosecution also filed an application seeking warrant for the arrest of Ghulam Azam, a prime war crimes suspect.
Ghulam Azam, however, told media on Monday that the charges pressed against him were ‘false’ and the prosecution would not be able to prove any of them.
State minister for law Quamrul Islam and chief prosecutor Golam Arif Tipu told reporters that the prosecution had obtained enough evidence and witnesses to prove the charges.
Ghulam Azam admitted that he and his party had assisted the Pakistani occupation army during the war of independence, but claimed that they had done so in order to save the people as the Pakistan army was killing people.
When his attention was drawn to Azam’s statement, Quamrul asked whether killing people, raping women, handing over women to Pakistani soldiers for rape, arson, robbery and other crimes against humanity were committed by Razakars and other auxiliary forces, created by Ghulam Azam, to save people.
The chief prosecutor, Golam Arif Tipu, at the
outset of the tribunal’s proceedings on Monday, told the court that the prosecution had already submitted the formal charges against Ghulam Azam and an application for warrant for his arrest.
The tribunal, widely known as war crimes tribunal instituted for 1971 war crimes trial, asked the prosecution to submit the formal charges to its registrar.
The tribunal of Justice Nizamul Huq, Justice ATM Fazle Kabir and judge AKM Zahir Ahmed also said that it would hold a hearing on taking cognisance of the charges.
The tribunal chairman Justice Nizamul Huq told the prosecution, ‘You need not file a petition seeking warrant for the arrest of an accused after submitting the formal charges. Law will take its own course and it empowers the tribunal to summon an accused or issue warrant for his arrest.’
On November 1, the prosecution informed the tribunal that the war crimes investigators had submitted the final report on the day against 89-year Ghulam Azam and the prosecution would submit the formal charges against him soon.
Tipu told reporters that the submission of the formal charges against Azam reflected the people’s desire to see the war criminals tried.
Prosecutor Rana Das Gupta alleged that Ghulam Azam had been on good terms with the Pakistani military government before and after the 1970 general elections.
A few days after the election, Azam and leaders of some political parties defeated in the election, met martial law administrator General Tikka Khan, who was later known as the Butcher of Bengal and decided to form the ‘Peace Committee’, he said.
On the third day of ‘Operation Searchlight’, when thousands of innocent people were killed by the Pakistani occupation army, a 140-member peace committee, headed by Khwaja Khairuddin, was formed. The following day, another six-member committee was formed to supervise the activities of the peace committee and Ghulam Azam was the second from the top in the committee, the prosecutor said.
On the fourth day after the Operation Searchlight, they issued a statement expressing their solidarity with Pakistan and said that the operation was justified, otherwise, Pakistan would have been divided, the prosecutor added.
Pakistani authorities formed different associate committees like Mojaheed Committee and auxiliary forces like Rajakar, Al Badr, Al Shams etc with direct assistance of Azam, he said.
The prosecutor also said that Azam had visited different training camps of the auxiliary forces, and reviewed their parades and managed arms for them from the occupation army.
Azam was responsible for all the atrocities committed across the country during the war of independence, the prosecutor said adding that the massacre of intellectuals on December 14 was committed under his leadership.
He also said that Azam was involved in killing 38 people, including Shiru Mia, who were pulled out of prison on an Eid night, at Koiratala in Brahmanbaria.
The war crimes investigation agency chief coordinator, Abdul Hannan Khan, said, ‘There are 40 witnesses in the 360-page report on Ghulam Azam and over 400 documents.’
So far, the prosecution submitted formal charges against six war crimes suspects.
On Sunday, it had submitted formal charges against detained Jamaat amir Matiur Rahman Nizami, secretary general Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed and assistant secretary general Mohammad Kamaruzzaman.
Earlier, it had submitted formal charges against Jamaat nayeb-e-amir Delwar Hossain Sayedee and Bangladesh Nationalist Party standing committee member Salauddin Quader Chowdhury, also a lawmaker.
The tribunal on November 20 began the first-ever trial in of war crimes with the prosecution making its opening statement in the trial of Sayedee.
On December 7, the tribunal began recording deposition of prosecution witnesses against Sayedee.
The defence counsels for Sayedee on Monday continued cross-examination of the first prosecution witness in the case, 60-year-old freedom fighter Mahbubul Alam Hawlader, for the third day.
Salauddin is yet to be indicted.