All his delaying, smear tactics come to nought
He and his men used every means at their disposal to delay his case proceedings and to create controversy over the war crimes trial.
From filing of dozens of petitions to submitting a list of over a thousand defence witnesses to sacking his lawyer and reappointing him thrice to vainly trying to hire foreign lawyers, Salauddin Quader Chowdhury employed every ploy and made every attempt to delay the trial proceedings, prosecutors said.
His family members and others allegedly leaked the draft of his verdict of a war crimes tribunal and launched an online campaign to create controversy over the trial. Even yesterday, Salauddin tried to benefit from submitting a “fake certificate” that he was a student of Punjab University in Pakistan in 1971, they said.
But nothing worked out.
The convicted BNP leader will walk to gallows as the SC yesterday rejected his petition to review its verdict that upheld his death penalty for committing crimes against humanity and genocide during the Liberation War in 1971. He's now left with the only option of seeking presidential clemency.
"He [Salauddin] has played all possible tricks to delay his case proceedings and to create a negative impression on the trial nationally and internationally ... But ultimately nothing paid off. Only the truth prevails," said Tureen Afroz, a prosecutor of the tribunal.
Echoing Tureen, Sultan Mahmud Simon, another prosecutor, said even forged documents were used to influence the verdict in his favour.
"On several occasions, prosecution witnesses had been threatened to stall the trial," he told The Daily Star last night.
With his lips always drawn up in a sneer, he violated rules of court decorum wilfully and laughed at the judges and lawyers. He was confident of getting freedom with the change of government and he threatened to bring the prosecutors to book. His controversial comments often hogged media headlines.
During his trial, Salauddin mocked the tribunal on many occasions. At one stage of the trial process, he even said he was not a Bangalee and he was a Bangladeshi not by birth but by choice. His bizarre behaviour did not go unnoticed by the International Crimes Tribunal-1, which conducted the trial.
About his behaviour, the tribunal in its verdict said, "The accused [Salauddin] is an elected people's representative but his art of deliberation, actions and conduct as shown in the courtroom were not in conformity with rightness, decency and convention of good behaviour."
It all started when the 66-year-old BNP leader was first produced before the tribunal on December 30, 2010. On the day, he began addressing the judges without seeking permission from the court, and interrupted the tribunal several times.
Before the hearing on his charge framing, the war crimes convict sought permission to appoint foreign lawyers and 11 months' time to prepare his case but the tribunal turned down his pleas in December 2011.
During the trial, Salauddin filed a series of petitions to delay the proceedings, Tureen told The Daily Star yesterday.
Many of those petitions were unnecessary, she said.
The tribunal saw another face of Salauddin on May 14, 2012, when he apparently threatened the former chairman of the tribunal, Justice Nizamul Huq, saying, "Mr Nizamul Huq! Please don't show me your red eyes."
It happened when Salauddin wanted to cross-examine the first prosecution witness, Prof Anisuzzaman, even though he had his counsels. This prompted the tribunal to caution him that the trial would be conducted in his absence if he did not stop behaving that way.
"He also threatened the prosecution," Tureen said.
On January 1, 2013, Salauddin threatened the state counsels, saying if he got out of jail, they would know the consequences of their actions. "Let me get out of jail. You will see," he said.
During the case proceedings, Salauddin cancelled vakalatnama (power of attorney) of his counsels twice and reappointed the same counsel thrice. The tribunal later kept a state defence team constantly till the end of the trial.
But everything was overshadowed when the draft of the verdict was leaked out on October 1, 2013, the day International Crimes Tribunal-1 delivered its verdict in his war crimes case.
Later, police found his wife, one of his sons, and a lawyer were involved in the leak. A case was filed against them in this connection. The case is pending now.
"It was serious a bid to create controversy over the tribunal and trial process," said Tureen.
A controversy surfaced few days before the Supreme Court verdict that upheld Salauddin's death penalty when the Janakantha, a Bangla daily, published an article allegedly on lobbying by Salauddin Quader's family.
Later, the Supreme Court found the newspaper editor and the writer of the article guilty of contempt of court and punished them.
After filing a petition seeking review of the SC verdict, his lawyer prayed for recording testimony of eight people including five Pakistani citizens, a move the SC lawyers found to be unprecedented at this stage. The SC rejected the plea.
In their last ditch effort, Salauddin's wife Farhat Quader Chowdhury filed a writ petition with the High Court challenging the constitutional provision that allows the trial of an individual for committing crimes against humanity during the Liberation War.
The court refused to hear the writ petition saying the issues mentioned in the prayer were already settled by the HC.
Apart from these tactics, Salauddin's supporters have actively campaigned in social media. Under a facebook page "Justice for Chowdhury", they are disseminating information and documents including affidavit of some people which have already been proved false by the court.
Through this social media campaign, they are trying to malign the trial process, said Tureen.
"Although he [Salauddin] could delay the trial procedure through such activities, he could not halt justice," she said.