Appeal hearing in SC stumbles


Ashutosh Sarkar
February 22, 2015

Disposal of the appeals filed by seven convicted war criminals against their death sentences is taking time as the Supreme Court has many other urgent and important cases to deal with, said court sources and lawyers concerned.
The Appellate Division of the SC is yet to start hearing any of the seven appeals. It has disposed of separate appeals filed by three war crimes convicts in around two years.

Of the pending appeals, the top court is now set to deal with the appeal of Jamaat-e-Islami Secretary General Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed, as it is first in the serial, the sources said. Six other convicts, whose appeals await SC hearing, are BNP leader Salauddin Quader Chowdhury, Jamaat chief Motiur Rahman Nizami and its leaders Mir Quasem Ali and ATM Azharul Islam, expelled Awami League leader of Brahmanbaria Mobarak Hossain, and former state minister of HM Ershad’s government Syed Mohammad Qaisar.

None of the state and defence counsels could specifically say when the SC would start hearing the appeal of Mojaheed, and how much time would be needed for the hearing and disposal of all the pending appeals. Talking to The Daily Star, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam just said he hoped the Appellate Division would start hearing Mojaheed’s appeal next month. He said he would place arguments before the SC for upholding the ICT-2 verdict that sentenced Mojaheed to death for his wartime offences.

“I don’t know how much time the Supreme Court will need to dispose of the appeals filed by the war crimes convicts.”
The top law officer of the state said the main legal point regarding war crimes-related cases had already been settled by the SC, and it might not take much time in disposing of other war crimes-related appeals. He hoped that the SC would dispose of the pending appeals within two years. Asked, SC Registrar Syed Aminul Islam said it was the discretion of the SC to hear and dispose of any appeal. The SC will decide when it will hold the hearing on Mojaheed’s appeal.

Mohammad Shishir Manir, one of the defence lawyers, told this correspondent that the SC might take at least two years for hearing and disposing of the seven war crimes appeals if it deals with them at the current pace. The International Crimes Tribunals, on different dates, had convicted and sentenced the seven to death for their crimes against humanity during the country’s Liberation War in 1971. Overruling the judgment of the ICT-2 that had given Jamaat leader Abdul Quader Mollah life term imprisonment for his wartime offences, the SC sentenced Mollah to death on September 18, 2013. It also upheld the death penalty for Muhammad Kamaruzzaman. In the case of Jamaat leader Delwar Hossain Sayedee, it commuted the death penalty and sentenced him to jail until death.

Mollah was executed on December 12, 2013.

The ICT-2 on July 17, 2013, found Mojaheed guilty on five war crimes charges and sentenced him to death on three of the charges. Mojaheed filed the appeal with the SC on August 12, 2013, seeking acquittal of all the charges. The SC was set to start hearing his appeal on January 14 this year, but it deferred the hearing following an adjournment prayer from the defence. Since then the appeal has not been included in the list of the SC for hearing. The appeals of former Jamaat chief Ghulam Azam, who was sentenced to 90 years in prison by the ICT-1, and BNP leader Abdul Alim, who was sentenced to imprisonment till death by the ICT-2, for committing war crimes have become ineffective after their deaths behind bars.
Convicted war criminals Chowdhury Mueen Uddin, Ashrafuzzaman Khan and Abul Kalam Azad, popularly known as Bachchu Razakar, are now on the run.

Source: The Daily Star

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