12:00 AM, December 07, 2012 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, December 07, 2012

Sayedee verdict anytime soon

War Crimes Tribunal closes arguments

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Staff Correspondent

The International Crimes Tribunal-1 may deliver judgement on the war crimes case against Jamaat-e-Islami Nayeb-e-Ameer Delawar Hossain Sayedee any day as the proceedings of the case concluded yesterday.
On the concluding day, the prosecution asked for capital punishment for Sayedee for committing crimes against humanity during the Liberation War of 1971.
Sayedee is facing 19 charges of crimes against humanity at the tribunal.
Tribunal-1 and Tribunal-2 are dealing with eight other crimes against humanity cases filed so far against Jamaat and BNP leaders. This is the only case which is awaiting verdict. Proceedings in the other cases are still going on.
His case was the first to go into trial.
The three-member Tribunal-1, led by Justice Md Nizamul Huq with members Justice Jahangir Hossain Selim and Justice Anwarul Huq, adjourned the case proceedings for verdict (Case Adjournment for Verdict), which according to lawyers means that the judgement could be delivered any day.
Before adjournment of the case yesterday, the trial proceedings against Sayedee came to an end with the prosecution and the defence completing their closing arguments.
It took one year to complete recording testimonies of the prosecution and defence witnesses and arguments of both sides. The first prosecution witnesses testified on December 7, 2011.
Expressing gratitude to the Almighty, Justice Md Nizamul Huq yesterday said they would deliver the verdict on the basis of evidence. “We will not look into anything else,” he added.
“Any party could be dissatisfied by the judgement,” he said addressing the prosecution and the defence.
During the closing arguments, Justice Jahangir Hossain Selim said it would be very difficult for them (judges) to reach a decision.
“While hearing your [defence] statement, it seems your case is proper. While hearing their [prosecution] statement, it seems they are right,” he said while a defence counsel was placing arguments.
Defence counsel Mizanul Islam completed his argument saying, “There is no alternative to giving Sayedee an acquittal.”
He said Sayedee was being tried only for political reasons. Had he not been involved in politics, he would not have been indicted, he claimed.
An individual, rather than the crimes, was being tried, he observed.
Meanwhile, Prosecutor Syed Haidar Ali said the defence counsel addressed the prosecution witnesses and the investigation officer in an improper way.
On behalf of the prosecution and the defence, Prosecutor Haidar Ali expressed gratitude towards the tribunal, visitors, the investigation agency and the media.
“Beyond any doubt, we have become successful in proving 19 charges out of the 20,” he said.
The prosecution had dropped one of the charges filed against Sayedee during the case proceedings.
The prosecution then prayed for capital punishment for Sayedee.
With the permission of the tribunal, Sayedee from the dock said, “Touching Quran, I say that if at least one among the 19 charges could be proved, I would not die with Iman [faith in Allah]”. Sayedee then cursed the investigation officer of the case.
Following a Dhaka court order, Sayedee was arrested along with Jamaat leaders Motiur Rahman Nizami and Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed on June 30, 2010, in connection with hurting religious sentiment of the Muslims.
Nizami and Mojaheed are now also facing crimes against humanity charges at the tribunals.
Chief prosecutor Ghulam Arieff Tipoo of the International Crimes Tribunal placed the charges against Sayedee before the tribunal through its registrar on July 11, 2011.
The tribunal framed 20 specific charges against Sayedee on October 3, 2011.
The trial finally began on November 20, 2011, with the prosecution's opening statement.
The defence produced their first witness on September 2 this year. Due to frequent failure of producing witnesses, the tribunal got annoyed and closed recording of defence witness testimonies on October 23.
A total 28 prosecution witnesses testified against Sayedee and 17 defence witnesses testified for him.
The prosecution began placing its closing arguments on November 5 while defence counsels began theirs on November 18, which ended yesterday.
Meanwhile, a war-wounded freedom fighter yesterday testified that expelled Jamaat member Abul Kalam Azad used to train Razakar and Al-Badr men occupying civilians' houses during the Liberation War.
Probodh Kumar Sarkar, the 15th prosecution witness in the case, said Azad-led Razakars used to assist the Pakistani army in identifying the Hindus, Awami League supporters and pro-liberation people and handing them over to the Pakistani army.
The 62-year-old witness from Faridpur said as per the blueprint of the Pakistani military governor Tikka Khan, the Pakistani army entered Faridpur town on April 21, 1971.
On their way to the town, they killed eight priests of Prabhu Jagatbandhu Ashram (temple). "Afterwards, the Pakistani army formed Peace Committee at Faridpur to execute their blueprint," said Probodh.
"Advocate Afzal was the convenor of the Peace Committee while Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed, Abul Kalam Azad alias Bachchu Razakar, Alauddin Khan, Chan Quazi, Jafar and Khokan were members of the 28-member committee," he said.
“Later, Razakar force was regrouped locally and Abul Kalam Azad led the force,” he added.
“In cooperation and consultation with the Razakars at Faridpur Circuit House, the Pakistani army used to kill and torture people,” said Probodh, a writer on Liberation War.
In the last part of May, 1971, Azad, as Al-Badr commander, occupied the house of Badri Narayan Agarwal and Hiralal Mokter and used to train Razakar and Al-Badr men there, he added.
Probodh will face cross-examination on Sunday.

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