Skypegate did not vitiate trials, says AG

Skypegate did not vitiate trials, says AG

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Bangladesh government’s top law officer threw his weight behind the
prosecution at the first war crimes tribunal on Sunday.Attorney General Mahbubey Alam, who has been attending the tribunal’s
proceedings since last week, began countering retrial petitions of
three Jamaat-e-Islami leaders indicted for war crimes and said there
was no specific allegation as to how the trials were vitiated.
Alam said the court should not take into consideration the huge volume
of material that the Jamaat defence team had presented because the
Constitution guaranteed privacy of private correspondence and also
because relevant internet laws prohibited hacking.
He also mentioned that the tribunal had ordered not to mention or
publish the contents of a Skype conversation that former tribunal
chairman Justice Mohammad Nizamul Huq supposedly had with a
Brussels-based academic.
Bangladesh Bar Council Vice Chairman Khandkar Mahbub Hossain, expected
to move the last of the applications — that of Jamaat chief Motiur
Rahman Nizami — was not in court and arrived after lunch.
However, Mizanul Islam had already moved the third application briefly
with an assurance from the court that it would hear the senior lawyer,
Mahbub Hossain, when he did arrive.
After lunch, when Mahbub Hossain presented himself, the court said it
would hear the senior lawyer on Monday morning.
The three-judge International Crimes Tribunal-1, set up to try crimes
against humanity during 1971 Liberation War, indicted Azam for five
war crimes charges, Nizami for 16 and Sayedee for 20 charges.
The flurry of retrial applications came about after Justice Huq
resigned in the wake of a controversy centring his association with
Ahmed Ziauddin, an international law expert living in Belgium.
It is alleged, based on over 17 hours of leaked Skype conversation and
over 200 leaked emails — allegedly between the legal expert and the
judge, that the judge had discussed trial proceedings and taken
assistance from Ziauddin.
The defence says that this Ziauddin was in a position to influence the
trials and the judge had in fact acted according to the dictates from
‘thousands of miles’ away.
The Attorney General replied that even if the tribunal did consider
the stolen materials before it, there was no reason to find that the
trials had been vitiated because of the judge’s actions.
This is a three-judge tribunal and the orders were not his own but
also approved by the other two members. “Thus those orders were the
tribunal’s and not Justice Huq’s alone.”
Earlier when senior defence counsel of Jamaat, Mizanul Islam, was
moving the application for Sayedee, he had mentioned that the Jamaat
leaders’ indictment order had come from abroad and the tribunal had
passed that very order.
The defence has also presented a collection of emails and attachments
that Ziauddin had supposedly sent to Justice Huq.
At this point, the current Chairman, who was then a sitting member of
the first tribunal, Justice A T M Fazle Kabir, said, “I can tell you
about this order that I and Zaheer had prepared this order.”
Judge AKM Zaheer Ahmed, another member of the first tribunal, resigned
in August this year on health grounds.
Justice Kabir, reappointed to the first tribunal, said the order in
question conformed to the style and structure of the subcontinent. “It
is not at all European, which is quite different.”
The judge said, “We gave the order to the Chairman. I don’t know what
happened to it afterwards, but we had prepared this order. This much I
can say.”
The defence counsel then said, “Then there is still a possibility of
the chairman sending it abroad for further scrutiny.”
The defence counsel said that whether the order was changed or not is
a different question altogether.
The counsel had said earlier that the proceedings had been subject to
gross irregularities. “There had been a tsunami of irregularities!” he
said.
During his submissions, the Attorney General attempted to show why the
cases cited by the chief Jamaat counsel Abdur Razzaq were irrelevant
and not quite applicable to the instant case.
Mahbubey Alam pointed to certain specific instances of jthe udge’s
alleged conversation with Ziauddin and showed how they could not have
vitiated the trial.
“A judge’s conversation with an old acquaintance about certain
specific instances does not have any bearing on the trial in general.”
Prosecutor Syed Haider Ali was about to begin his deliberations before
the tribunal when the court adjourned for the day.
The tribunal said that it would hear Mahbub Hossain in the morning and
then hear his arguments. “It would be better if you heard Khandaker
Mahbub Hossain too. Then you would be able to reply to his points as
well,” said Justice Kabir.
(Source: bdnews24.com)

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