Resubmission of charges resulted in former Jamaat-e-Islami ameer Ghulam Azam being accused of 62 counts of crimes against humanity at the International Crimes Tribunal yesterday, instead of the previous 52 counts.
The prosecution yesterday resubmitted the formal charges against Ghulam Azam in connection with war crimes during the Liberation War. Earlier, the tribunal had rejected the charges the prosecution brought against him and asked the prosecution to submit the chargers again arranging and classifying them properly.
The tribunal received the “rearranged and reclassified” charges against Ghulam Azam and said the charges, on 62 counts, were now filed “duly”. It fixed January 9 for passing an order on whether they will be taken into cognisance.
In the charges, six counts were for conspiring with the Pakistani occupation force to commit crimes against humanity. Three counts were for planning to commit crimes and atrocities, 28 counts were for incitement, 24 counts for complicity, and one specific charge for murder and torture during the 1971 Liberation War.
The charges against Ghulam Azam include leading mass murder of intellectuals on December 14, 1971, and killing 38 prisoners of Brahmanbaria jail.
He was also held responsible by the prosecutors for all atrocities committed across the country between March 25, 1971, and December 16, 1971.
The three-judge tribunal headed by its Chairman Justice Md Nizamul Huq yesterday also fixed January 9 for hearing a petition recently filed by Ghulam Azam seeking to be relieved of the charges.
Ghulam Azam is considered by many a symbol of war crimes during the Liberation War.
The prosecution yesterday morning resubmitted the formal charges and other relevant documents to the tribunal through its registrar office in line with the tribunal's earlier order.
On December 12, the prosecution pressed formal charges containing 52 counts of crimes against humanity against Ghulam Azam and sought for his arrest. The tribunal on December 26 sent the charges back to the prosecution saying that the charges were not “properly arranged and classified”. It also ordered the chief prosecutor to reorganise and rearrange the charges in a “systematic form” and resubmit by January 5.
After finishing the tribunal's proceedings for the day, Chief Prosecutor Ghulam Arieff Tipoo told reporters at his office yesterday that they mentioned in the formal charges that Ghulam Azam was responsible for all collective and individual crimes against humanity committed by Pakistan occupation forces and their auxiliary forces in 1971.
Rana Dasgupta, a member of the prosecution team, told The Daily Star that in the new formal charges against Ghulam Azam, 10 counts of crimes against humanity have increased due to reclassification of the charges as ordered by the court.
He said in January and February of 1971, Ghulam Azam and his associates held several meetings with the then Pakistan president Yahya Khan and the then East Pakistan governor and martial law administrator Gen Tikka Khan, who later became internationally known as the “Butcher of Bengal”. He said the meetings were held for hatching conspiracies and to plan the annihilation of Awami League supporters and the Hindus. Rana said the collaborators termed the Hindus and Awami League supporters “miscreants”, “intruders” and “brokers of India” after Awami League won a landslide victory in December, 1970 national elections.
Tajul Islam, a counsel for Ghulam Azam, told the media that the prosecution brought the charges against his client to harass him for political purposes. The charges brought against Ghulam Azam have no legal grounds since no charges of war crimes were proved before the Supreme Court during his citizenship case, the lawyer claimed.