Arrest order for 1971 genocide
The International Crimes Tribunal yesterday issued arrest warrants against already detained four Jamaat-e-Islami leaders on charges of committing genocide and crimes against humanity and peace during the Liberation War.
"Warrants of arrest should be issued against these four people to ensure effective and proper investigation," Tribunal Chairman Justice Nizamul Huq said allowing the prosecution prayer after submission of Chief Prosecutor Golam Arif Tipu.
The four Jamaat leaders are Ameer Motiur Rahman Nizami, Secretary General Ali Ahsan Muhammad Mojahid and senior assistant secretaries general Muhammad Kamaruzzaman and Abdul Quader Molla.
The tribunal directed to send copies of the arrest warrants to the detainees' addresses and also to their place of detention. A notice was issued to the Dhaka metropolitan Police commissioner yesterday afternoon from the Tribunal to implement the order.
The Tribunal also directed to serve a copy of allegations available in the petition of the prosecution to the four Jamaat leaders at the time of execution of arrest warrants and fixed August 2 for submitting the execution report.
This would be the first ever arrest in the country's history for committing offences under the section 3(2) of the International Crimes Tribunal Act, 1973, which is non-bailable as per the law.
Offences including war crimes and genocide, and crimes against humanity and peace like murder, abduction, confinement, torture and rape fall under this section of law.
Yesterday's move was the first proceedings (pre-trial) of the Tribunal set up at old High Court building since its formation on March 25. Additional security measures were taken in and around the court.
Several lawyers including Attorney General Mahbubey Alam, a number of observers and freedom fighters including Mofidul Haque were present to witness the historic moment of the maiden proceedings.
However, no lawyer was present in the Tribunal to defend the four suspected war criminals.
Speaking anonymously, a prosecutor told The Daily Star the Jamaat leaders had no right to appoint lawyers during hearing the petition seeking arrest warrant against them as the Tribunal did not take any charge against them into cognisance.
Now the four can have their lawyers to defend them as the Tribunal has issued arrest warrants against them.
The prosecution submitted the petition to the Tribunal on Sunday with the arrest prayer in connection with a case filed on July 21. The case has been under investigation.
The investigation agency formed under the International Crimes Tribunal Act started its probe based on this "Complaint Case" and the first petition from the prosecution arose out of that case.
The chairman and two other members of the Tribunal -- Justice ATM Fazle Kabir and Justice AKM Zaheer Ahmed -- sat at the bench at 10:30am.
The chief prosecutor made his submission about the petition they filed the day before for issuing the arrest warrants.
Explaining their ground, he said the investigation agency is conducting a probe and has already found evidence against the four Jamaat leaders of committing offences under section 3(2) of the International Crimes Tribunal Act.
At the beginning of his submission, the chief prosecutor mentioned a very brief history of the birth of Bangladesh in 1971 starting from the partition of India in 1947 that created Pakistan.
He said the Pakistani occupation forces started genocide at the night of March 25, 1971 using betrayers and anti-liberation axis of Bangladesh as their auxiliary force with the aim of eliminating the Bangalee nation.
He also submitted that Nizami, Mojahid, Kamaruzzaman and Molla might create obstruction to investigation that started about their alleged crimes committed during the Liberation War.
He added though the four Jamaat leaders have already been arrested, they had prayed for issuing arrest warrant to keep them detained.
He also argued that the prosecution had prayed so because if the four were freed, there would be possibilities of tampering with or destroying of evidence and creating obstruction to investigation.
He said they should be arrested so that they cannot create any crisis by going into hiding.
As per the section 9(1) of the Rules of Procedure of the Tribunal, "the investigation officer, through the prosecutor, may obtain a warrant of arrest from the Tribunal for arrest of a person at any stage of investigation, if he can satisfy the Tribunal that such arrest is necessary for effective and proper investigation".
Earlier yesterday, Chairman of the Tribunal Justice Nizamul asked the chief prosecutor to give his submission as per the requirements of the section 9(1) of the Rules.
In response, the chief prosecutor said there are plenty of materials about the four suspected war criminals.
The chairman asked him, "What are the specific allegations against the four persons?"
In reply, Tipu said being united with the Pakistani occupation forces and army as an auxiliary force, the alleged persons took part actively in killing, rape, loot, and crimes against humanity and peace.
Member of the Tribunal Justice Fazle Kabir asked about the places of occurrence.
"It was the entire Bangladesh," Tipu replied to the court.
Justice Kabir said Bangladesh cannot be the place of occurrence and asked the chief prosecutor to mention specifically about the places of such occurrence he mentioned against the four.
But the prosecution could not mention any specific places of occurrence.
Another member of the Tribunal Justice Zaheer asked the chief prosecutor why they had prayed to issue arrest warrant against the four who were already in custody.
Tipu argued that they have been arrested in other cases, not in the case the prosecution had mentioned before the Tribunal.
Meanwhile, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam told The Daily Star the four Jamaat leaders can seek bail only to this Tribunal, which may consider the bail prayers on sufficient grounds, if any.