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Friday, May 25, 2012
Metropolitan

War Crimes Trial

Discharge plea for Mojaheed

At the International Crimes Tribunal-2, the defence for Jamaat-e-Islami Secretary General Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed yesterday sought his discharge from charges

of crimes against humanity committed during the

Liberation War.

The defence made the plea in response to the prosecution's prayer to indict the former minister of a BNP-led government. Mojaheed is facing 32 charges of crimes against humanity, allegedly committed during the Liberation War.

Nazrul Islam, one of Mojaheed's counsels, yesterday read out the discharge petition.

The three-member tribunal led by Justice ATM Fazle Kabir and members Justice Obaidul Hassan and Judge M Shahinur Islam adjourned the proceedings until May 29, following a time prayer from the defence.

Nazrul said Mojaheed was merely a 23-year-old student leader then and during the war he spent his days in panic and fear.

“The accused petitioner has no connection with the army officials or high ups of the then Pakistani government,” said the counsel, adding, “He [Mojaheed] had no connection with the Razakar, Al Badr, Al Shams or Al Mujahid [collaborator forces] as well,” Nazrul said.

The defence counsel claimed that on many occasions, the Jamaat and its then student wing Islami Chhatra Sangha had criticised the attack of the Pakistani army on Bangalees during the war.

“The media were censored totally during that time [during the Liberation War]. In many cases, what was published was not stated and what was stated was not published,” said the defence counsel, quoting a statement of his client provided with the discharge petition.

“Especially, the statements of Jamaat and Islami Chhatra Sangha protesting the oppression of the military junta never saw the light of day,” he added.

However, the prosecution alleged that the Jamaat leader through speeches and media statements provoked his followers to “eliminate” freedom fighters and pro-liberation Bangalees in 1971 and the prosecution mentioned 12 such incidents in their formal charges.

The defence said charges should not be framed against its client as the prosecution brought the charges on insufficient legal basis and inadequate evidence. The defence said if the trial was held, it would result in an unfair trial by domestic and international standards.

Nazrul said up to October 31, 1973, a total 37,471 people were put on trial under the Collaborators (Special Tribunal) Order, 1972 but the prosecution failed to provide any evidence that Mojaheed was one of the 37,471.

When the defence counsel completed reading out the petition, the tribunal chairman drew his attention to page 55 of the formal charge, where the prosecution provided a report of the daily Sangram.

The Sangram report cited that Motiur Rahman Nizami, the then president of Nikhil Pakistan Islami Chhatra Sangha, was the chief of Al Badr Bahini (a collaborator force) formed with the members of Chhatra Sangha until September of 1971.

Mojaheed, at the time president of East Pakistan Chhatra Sangha, took over the position of Al Badr force commander, in October 1971, the report stated.

“Neither Nizami nor Mojaheed was ever commander of Al Badr force,” replied Nazrul Islam.

Abdur Razzaq, chief defence counsel of the detained Jamaat leaders, took to the podium and said there was insufficient evidence to support the prosecution's claim.

At that point, Judge M Shahinur Islam asked the prosecution whether they have any other evidence in this regard.

Prosecutor Muklesur Rahman Badal placed a photo of Daily Azad published on December 11, 1971, that showed Mojaheed delivering a speech at a meeting of the Al Badr force.

“If a newspaper tells me that I led a force, does it mean that it is true?” replied the defence chief, adding that they would reply to the matter when the case was in its trial stage.

“If it is a matter of the trial stage, then should we frame charges [against Mujahid]?” was Justice Obaidul Hassan's reply.

Mojaheed is among four BNP and Jamaat leaders facing crimes against humanity charges in Tribunal-2. The tribunal also issued an arrest warrant against expelled Jamaat member Abdul Kalam Azad in connection with crimes against humanity. He is now at large.

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