Quasem indicted | The Daily Star
12:50 AM, September 06, 2013 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:40 PM, September 06, 2013

Quasem indicted

He faces 14 war crimes charges; trial starts Sept 30

Quasem indictedThe International Crimes Tribunal-1 yesterday indicted Jamaat-e-Islami leader Mir Quasem Ali on 14 charges, including murder, torture, abduction and confinement of people and complicity in crimes against humanity during the Liberation War.
A member of Jamaat's executive council, Quasem, 60, pleaded not guilty by saying, “Honourable tribunal, I am completely innocent.”
The tribunal also fixed September 30 for the opening statement of the prosecution and the commencement of the trial.
Born in Munsidangi Sutalori of Manikganj on December 31, 1952, Quasem became the general secretary of Islami Chhatra Sangha, the then student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami, on November 7, 1971.
Chhatra Sangha members formed the Al-Badr force to collaborate with the Pakistani military to commit genocide and mass killing during the war, according to historical records and earlier tribunal verdicts. The charges say that Quasem had led members of the Al-Badr of Chittagong in 1971.
“Al-Badar [Al-Badr] was created not to maintain peace and public order. Rather, it is proved beyond reasonable doubt that it had carried out a series of untold criminal activities, in furtherance of the policy and plan of the Pakistan occupation army in a systematic manner,” read the judgement against condemned war criminal Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed.
Quasem apparently did very well after the Liberation War. According to defence documents, Quasem is the chairman of Keari Ltd, a real estate and tourism company, chairman of the managing committee of Diganta Media Corporations, which owns now off-the-air Diganta TV and the Naya Diganta paper.
He is also a founding member of Ibn-Sina Trust, which owns several medical facilities and a pharmaceutical company, and a member secretary of Islami Bank Foundation and founding member of Islami Bank.
The prosecution during the charge framing hearing tried to establish the superior status of Quasem during the Liberation War by citing reports published in newspapers.
Quoting a report of Daily Pakistan of November 8, 1971, prosecutor Sultan Mahmud Simon said Quasem addressed a rally, organised by Al-Badr, in front of Baitul Mukarram mosque where he vowed to resist India's attack, kill “miscreants” and establish Islamic society.
Historic documents say that the anti-liberation forces called the pro-liberation forces and freedom fighters miscreants.
After a brief profile of the accused, submission by the prosecution and the defence, the three-member Tribunal-1 Chairman Justice ATM Fazle Kabir read out the 14 charges yesterday. Justice Jahangir Hossain Selim and Justice Anwarul Haque are the other two members of the tribunal.
Quasem was indicted for crimes that were committed in November and December of 1971.
Two of the charges were related to Quasem's reported involvement in the killing of eight people in Chittagong while the rest were based on his alleged involvement in abduction, confinement and torture of at least 27 people in Chittagong.
According to a charge, on Quasem's directives, members of Al-Badr picked up freedom fighter Jasim and took him to “Dalim Hotel torture centre” at Andorkilla of Chittagong. Jasim was inhumanly tortured there.
“On your [Quasem's] orders member of Al-Badr killed Jasim on the rooftop of Dalim Hotel on November 28,” the tribunal chairman said reading out the charges to Quasem. Jasim's body was thrown into the Karnaphuli river along with five other unidentified bodies.
The tribunal then read out another charge on the killing of Ranjit Das Prakash Latu and Tuntu Sen Prakash Raju.
The tribunal in the description of the incident said Jahangir Alam Chowdhury, Ranjit and Tuntu were abducted from Hazari Lane of Chittagong in November, 1971, on Quasem's orders. They were tortured at the Dalim Hotel.
“On the following day, on your instruction, Jahangir Alam Chowdhury was set free but the other two were kept detained. Later, members of Al-Badr working for you killed them and hid the bodies,” said the tribunal.
The rest of the charges include abduction, confinement and torture of Omar-ul-Islam Chowdhury, Lutfar Rahman Faruk, Jahangir Alam Chowdhury, Saifuddin Khan, Abdul Jabbar Member, Harun-or-Rashid Khan, Sanaullah Chowdhury, Nurul Kuddus, Syed Md Emran, Jakaria, Sunil Kanti Bardhan Prakash Dulal and Nasiruddin Chowdhury and others.
The tribunal yesterday passed the indictment order rejecting an adjournment petition filed by the defence.
Defence counsel Tanvir Ahmed Al-Amin sought the adjournment saying their senior counsel Abdur Razzak, now in the US, wanted to place arguments in favour of their discharge petition. “He will fly back home on Sunday and join the proceedings after lunch the same day,” he said praying the tribunal to adjourn the proceeding until then.
"Sir, please give us one more day as our senior would like to place a little submission before you indict our client," said Tanvir.
Prosecutor Simon vehemently opposed the petition and said the defence got adjournment a number of times and claimed that the International Crimes (Tribunal) Act does not allow such adjournments.
The tribunal had deferred the indictment once on the grounds of Razzaq being in the US.
The investigation agency, responsible for investigating war crimes, began its probe into the alleged war crimes of Quasem on July 26, 2010, and submitted its report to the prosecution on May 6, 2013. On May 26, the tribunal took the charges pressed by prosecution into cognisance.
Quasem was arrested on June 17, 2012, after International Crimes Tribunal-1 issued an arrest warrant against him.

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