Chairman of International Crimes Tribunal-1 Justice M Enayetur Rahim, who was hearing the reply over a contempt petition against Supreme Court lawyer Khandker Mahbub Hossain yesterday, said lawyers should be more careful in making comments as they had a huge responsibility.
After the tribunal-1 sentenced former BNP lawmaker Salauddin Quader Chowdhury to death for war crimes, Khandker Mahbub, also an adviser to the BNP chief, commented that if voted to power, his party would try those involved in the trial.
The verdict against the BNP leader was pronounced on October 1 last year, and Mahbub made the comments on the same day through a press conference.
Mahbub said, “If the nationalist force comes to power, they will try those who are war criminals in the real sense. Those who were tried out of vengeance and the cases which were prepared on the basis of fairytale must go. And those who were involved in the farcical trial, Inshallah [if Allah wishes], they will also be tried on the soil of Bangladesh.”
Following a prosecution petition, the tribunal on October 6 asked Mahbub, also vice-chairman of Bangladesh Bar Council, to explain why contempt of court proceedings should not be initiated against him for such comments.
While giving a reply yesterday, defence counsel Tajul Islam said, “The opposition party regrets that his [Mahbub's] speech was misinterpreted by the petitioner without understanding the role of the judiciary and judges…Judge is not a party in a case, and in no way he is connected to the case.”
He also said Mahbub meant "false witnesses" would be punished if it was found in the future investigation.
The tribunal chairman then asked whether it was possible after execution of a convict. “Is there any law?” he said. “Such a law may be formulated in the future,” replied Tajul.
“How could he [Mahbub] make such a comment on the assumption that such a law may be formulated in the future?” Justice Enayetur Rahim inquired, saying that from Mahbub's comments it could be presumed that he tried to threaten the witnesses, an observation refuted by Tajul.
The counsel also said the comments in no way were made to degrade the tribunal, and prayed for dismissing the contempt petition.
The tribunal fixed May 8 for further hearing.
Meanwhile, the investigation agency yesterday submitted the probe report against war crimes suspect Abdul Jabbar, a former Jatiya Party lawmaker, to the prosecution.
International Crimes Tribunal-2 yesterday heard the defence's closing arguments in the case against Jamaat-e-Islami leader Mir Quasem Ali for the first day.
Defence counsel Mizanul Islam argued over Dalim Hotel, the alleged Al-Badr headquarters in Chittagong, and five out of 14 charges facing the 61-year-old Jamaat central leader.
The charges include murders in Chittagong between November and December 16, 1971.
During his arguments, the defence counsel tried to prove that Dalim Hotel was not an Al-Badr camp but a place controlled by one Motiur Rahman alias "Motya Gunda" during war.
The hotel owner had filed a case against Motiur Rahman for occupying the hotel but it was never disposed of, Mizanul said.
According to the prosecution, as chief of Chittagong Al-Badr, Mir Quasem turned the hotel into the Al-Badr headquarters and a torture cell for pro-liberation people in June 1971.
The three-member tribunal led by Justice Obaidul Hassan adjourned the case proceeding until today, when the defence will place further arguments.