12:00 AM, February 12, 2013 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, February 12, 2013

Inadequate Sentence

Provision for appeal endorsed

Cabinet okays change to war crimes trial act

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Staff Correspondent

The cabinet yesterday approved proposed amendments to the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act to introduce a provision for plaintiffs to appeal to the apex court against verdicts delivered by the tribunals.
The amendment is likely to be placed in parliament and passed this week, Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury told The Daily Star.
An official claimed that the state would be able to appeal against the life sentence handed down to Abdul Quader Mollah, by a tribunal on February 5, as the amendment would be passed by parliament very soon.
The stipulated time for filing an appeal with the Supreme Court is 30 days from verdict delivery.
Yesterday's cabinet approval came in the wake of the mass movement at Shahbagh demanding death sentence for all war criminals of the Liberation War. The “lenient” sentencing of Quader Mollah sparked the movement.
Briefing newsmen after the meeting, Cabinet Secretary M Musharraf Hossain said if the amendment was passed, aggrieved people, as well as the state being a plaintiff of a case dealt with by the tribunals, would get the opportunity to file an appeal with the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court against any inadequate sentencing by the tribunals.
He said there was no provision for victims or the government to appeal against any sentence handed down by the tribunals, other than an acquittal.
The amendment has also proposed disposing of the appeal within 45 days. This time limit could be extended up to 60 days on reasonable grounds.
The window to file the appeal is 30 days from the day of the verdict delivery by a tribunal.
On a query, Musharraf said the amendments would not affect the merit of the cases or the decisions of the tribunals. As there were inadequacies in the law, the amendments have been proposed. “All laws in every country in the world are amended when found to have limitations,” Musharraf said.
Replying to a question if the proposed law would have retrospective effect and whether the state would be able to appeal against the verdict delivered by a tribunal against Jamaat leader Abdul Quader Mollah, the secretary said the law would not have retrospective effect but “it is going to be passed within 30 days from the date of the verdict delivery”.
A nonstop movement has been going on in Shahbagh since February 5, soon after International Crimes Tribunal-2 awarded life sentence to Quader Mollah for committing crimes against humanity in 1971.
Outraged by the “lenient” sentencing, the spontaneous movement quickly spread across the country and among Bangladeshis living abroad.
Thousands of people began to gather at the Shahbagh intersection to express their dissatisfaction over the sentencing of Quader Mollah and to demand capital punishment for him and all war criminals, and equal rights for plaintiffs to appeal with the Supreme Court.
Against this backdrop, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Sunday told parliament that she would do everything to amend the relevant law if there was any weakness in it.

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