War crimes convict Salauddin Quader Chowdhury has filed a petition for deposition by eight witnesses, including five Pakistani nationals, during the hearing of a review of his death sentence.The BNP leader’s lawyer Hujjatul Islam al Fesani said the plea has been submitted to the Supreme Court.It also sought the court’s order to summon the eight witnesses for deposition.But, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam said a petition for witness deposition at this stage of the legal proceeding was ‘unprecedented’.The five Pakistani nationals are architect Muneeb Arjmand Khan, Dawn Media Group Chairman Amber Haroon Saigol, former Cabinet member Ishaq Khan Khakwani, former head of caretaker government Muhammad Mian Soomro and Reaz Ahmed Noon.The rest are former diplomat M Osman Siddique, who now lives in the US, High Court judge Shamim Hasnain and his mother Zinat Ara Begum.During Chowdhury’s trial at the war crimes tribunal, the defence’s list of witnesses included Beximco Group Vice Chairman Salman F Rahman and Justice Hasnain. Both of them, however, did not testify.
The defence then had produced three witnesses—former diplomat Adbul Momen, Nizam Ahmed, who had studied in college and university with Chowdhury, and Asia Pacific University’s Trustee Board member Qayum Reza Chowdhury, a cousin of the war crimes convict.The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a petition by the State on Oct 20, which sought a date for the hearings of review petitions by Chowdhury and another death-row convict Jamaat-e-Islami leader Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid.The war criminals filed the pleas to review their sentences on Oct 14. The next day, the State filed the petition.
The Appellate Division issued its verdicts against Chowdhury on July 29 and Mujahid on June 16 this year upholding death sentences.On Sep 30, the Supreme Court published the full verdict and they were sent to the International Crimes Tribunal the same day.The tribunal issued the death warrants and sent them to jail authorities on the following dayMujahid, the social welfare minister in Khaleda Zia’s coalition Cabinet, planned and executed mass murders including those of intellectuals, scientists, academics and journalists in 1971.
The International Crimes Tribunal on Jul 17, 2013, ordered death for him for the massacre of the intellectuals and involvement in the murder and torture of Hindus in 1971.On Oct 1 the same year, BNP Standing Committee member Chowdhury was sentenced to death by the tribunal.He was found guilty in nine out of the 23 charges levelled against him by the prosecution.