Food minister Quamrul Islam on Saturday demanded for holding a fresh hearing on the appeal of convicted war criminal and Jamaat leader Mir Quasem Ali after forming a new bench excluding Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha.
“I think there should be a fresh hearing on the appeal before a bench, excluding the chief justice as he is speaking at the open court as like as BNP-Jamaat and their lobbyist are doing,” the food minister made the demand just two-day before of delivering verdict on the appeal of Mir Quasem Ali by the apex court. Islam made the comment while addressing at a discussion arranged by the Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee, a platform that demands trials of war criminals, in Dhaka yesterday.
“It has been clear to us about the verdict on the appeal of Mir Quasem Ali following the comments made by the chief justice over the activities of prosecution team during the appeal hearing,” the minister noted.
“We have realised what verdict will be delivered in the case following the comment of the chief justice at the court during the appeal hearing. We have realised that there is no scope for upholding the death penalty for Quasem Ali in the case,” Islam said.
The food minister also said, “What did the chief justice say in the open court? The prosecution is doing politics with the case. The chief justice is speaking as like as the BNP, Jamaat and their lobbyists have been doing over the trial.”
“He in reality brought allegations against the state and the government. Not only that, his statement has questioned the trials by the tribunal over the past five years,” Islam noted.
After taking part in the discussion, Liberation War Affairs Minister AKM Mozammel Haque said that there should be a law with a provision for confiscating the properties of war criminals.
Haque also said that the chief justice should think whether he would stay in his post or not.
He demanded to withdraw the comments of chief justice that he made at the court during the appeal hearing. “If the chief justice would not withdraw his comment, he should consider about his resignation,” Haque said.
Quasem, known as the financial backbone of the Jamaat, was earlier sentenced to death by the International Crimes Tribunal for his 1971 crimes.
Daily Sangbad Editor Khandaker Muniruzzaman, Liberation War Museum Trustee Mufidul Haque, and Shahriar Kabir, Muntassir Mamun, Shyamoli Nasrin Chowdhury and Ferdousi Priyobhashini of Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee were also spoke at the discussion among others.
On February 23, chief justice SK Sinha expressed dissatisfaction over, what he observed, the incompetence of the prosecution and investigators, who have been dealing with war crimes cases.
“We are shocked at the performance of the prosecution and the investigators for their incompetence in dealing with war crimes cases. A huge amount of money is being spent, but their responsibilities are not reflected in their performance,” Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha came up with the observations after receiving records and documents of the International Crimes Tribunal-2, saying that the prosecution could not produce witnesses in some charges brought against Mir Quasem Ali.
“We became shocked when we read the documents submitted by the prosecution and investigators before the court during the trial proceedings. Although they have received huge facilities from the government, their services were not satisfactory at all,” the Chief Justice said.
On February 24, the five-member bench of the Appellate Division, headed by Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha fixed March 9 for delivering its verdict on the appeal filed by Mir Quasem Ali challenging the legality of the tribunal verdict that awarded death penalty to him for wartime offences.
On November 2, 2014, the then International Crimes Tribunal-2 sentenced Quasem Ali to death after it found him guilty on 10 charges of abduction, and confining and torturing people during the Liberation War in 1971.
Ali later filed an appeal before the SC, challenging the tribunal’s verdict. Ali, a member of the Jamaat-e-Islami’s central executive Council, in his appeal, cited 181 reasons for his acquittal on all charges.
So far, the apex court has handed down its verdicts against six war criminals in war crimes cases. – Staff Reporter