Second war tribunal hears maiden petition
The second International Crimes Tribunal, formed last week to speed up the trials of war crimes, formally started operations yesterday with the hearing on a petition to arrest former Islami Chhatra Sangha leader Maulana Abul Kalam Azad.
Prosecutor Haider Ali pleaded to the court to grant permission to arrest Azad, locally known as Bachchu Rajakar (collaborator), in connection with killing, looting and violating women during the Liberation War, and attempts to influence the investigation. He said there is all likelihood that Azad may try to leave the country.
International Crimes Tribunal-2 Chairman Justice ATM Fazle Kabir and members Justice Obaidul Hasan and judge M Shahinur Islam asked the prosecution to submit a progress report of the probe into Azad's activities then.
Haider said Azad, who served as collaborator voluntarily, shot many people dead and patronised killings and burying of many at Faridpur stadium. Because of his fluency in Urdu, Azad was trusted by the Pakistani army personnel.
“Grabbing a two-storied building on Jasimuddin Road in Faridpur, he [Azad] set up a camp for the Pakistan's military,” Haider told the court, adding that Azad also set up a court in the district where local Hindus were handed down punishment.
On a day in the end of May, 1971, Azad shot and killed Jibon Chakraborty of Boalmari of Faridpur. He violated two women of Latifdia village in the same district in June, Haidar said. Robbing the houses of many in the district, Azad became wealthy, alleged the prosecutor.
He claimed that witnesses to his atrocities fear retribution if they testify against him while he is at large.
In response, the court asked the prosecution to submit a progress report of the on-going investigation into the past deeds within seven days.
There were no defence lawyers at the court.
The tribunal would resume on April 2.
International Crimes Tribunal-2 began its proceedings around 3:30pm. The proceedings went on for about 30 minutes.
Justice ATM Fazle Kabir, however, expressed his unhappiness over the delayed start of court proceedings and asked the prosecution to make sure such delays do not occur in future.
“Hearings usually begin in the morning. It is difficult to hear a petition in the afternoon,” he told the prosecution.
Earlier, Justice Kabir hoped that thanks to the experience of Justice Obaidul Hasan and judge M Shahinur Islam, the new tribunal would achieve its goal.
He asked for everyone's cooperation, irrespective of prosecution or defence, journalists or visitors.
“I am sorry as the seating arrangement is yet to be complete. There is nothing to do right now. Consider the problems you face as yours,” he said.
Since the beginning of the trial of war crimes in 2010, many political parities and organisations had been demanding speeding up of the trial of war criminals.
The government set up the second tribunal at the old High Court building where the International Crimes Tribunal-1 is dealing with eight cases of crimes against humanity.