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Tuesday, February 12, 2013
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Inadequate Sentence

Provision for appeal endorsed

Cabinet okays change to war crimes trial act

The cabinet yesterday approved proposed amendments to the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act to introduce a provision for plaintiffs to appeal to the apex court against verdicts delivered by the tribunals.

The amendment is likely to be placed in parliament and passed this week, Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury told The Daily Star.

An official claimed that the state would be able to appeal against the life sentence handed down to Abdul Quader Mollah, by a tribunal on February 5, as the amendment would be passed by parliament very soon.

The stipulated time for filing an appeal with the Supreme Court is 30 days from verdict delivery.

Yesterday's cabinet approval came in the wake of the mass movement at Shahbagh demanding death sentence for all war criminals of the Liberation War. The “lenient” sentencing of Quader Mollah sparked the movement.

Briefing newsmen after the meeting, Cabinet Secretary M Musharraf Hossain said if the amendment was passed, aggrieved people, as well as the state being a plaintiff of a case dealt with by the tribunals, would get the opportunity to file an appeal with the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court against any inadequate sentencing by the tribunals.

He said there was no provision for victims or the government to appeal against any sentence handed down by the tribunals, other than an acquittal.

The amendment has also proposed disposing of the appeal within 45 days. This time limit could be extended up to 60 days on reasonable grounds.

The window to file the appeal is 30 days from the day of the verdict delivery by a tribunal.

On a query, Musharraf said the amendments would not affect the merit of the cases or the decisions of the tribunals. As there were inadequacies in the law, the amendments have been proposed. “All laws in every country in the world are amended when found to have limitations,” Musharraf said.

Replying to a question if the proposed law would have retrospective effect and whether the state would be able to appeal against the verdict delivered by a tribunal against Jamaat leader Abdul Quader Mollah, the secretary said the law would not have retrospective effect but “it is going to be passed within 30 days from the date of the verdict delivery”.

A nonstop movement has been going on in Shahbagh since February 5, soon after International Crimes Tribunal-2 awarded life sentence to Quader Mollah for committing crimes against humanity in 1971.

Outraged by the “lenient” sentencing, the spontaneous movement quickly spread across the country and among Bangladeshis living abroad.

Thousands of people began to gather at the Shahbagh intersection to express their dissatisfaction over the sentencing of Quader Mollah and to demand capital punishment for him and all war criminals, and equal rights for plaintiffs to appeal with the Supreme Court.

Against this backdrop, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Sunday told parliament that she would do everything to amend the relevant law if there was any weakness in it.

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A timely and commendable decision by the government incorporating provision for appeal for the prosecution including 60 days' disposal time of appeal in reflection of the people's demand and expectation. At the same time question arises as to how such a loophole was left unnoticed when the relevant law was amended last time despite presence of eminent lawyers. However, the ruling party has a lot to learn from all this happening recently. If they do not learn from it, I am sure, they will have to be suffering a lot in the future. I am still in doubt whether the opposition party BNP has started learning from the current scenario. If they have not, they must suffer a lot more. It is really strange that BNP is still undecided as to how to react with the ongoing mass upsurge, whether to continue their association with Jamaat-Shibir or not.

: S K

Making law does not really give confidence in the government. This ICT has effectively lost all the confidence from all sides. Most people knew that it would happen and that's why most people wanted a fair ICT by the UN. Why did not the government do that? What was the government afraid of?

: Roni Rahman

Comments

  • Sengupta, Canada
    Tuesday, February 12, 2013 12:07 AM GMT+06:00 (90 weeks ago)

    After enacting provisions, now the government has to pass those amendments in parliament very quickly and security for the youths at Shahbag must be ensured. Any mishap may cause double trouble for the government at this very moment.

  • Reaz Hassan
    Tuesday, February 12, 2013 12:50 AM GMT+06:00 (90 weeks ago)

    The second judgment by the ICT on Quader Mollah failed to satisfy the mass people. They simply demanded nothing sort of judicial pronouncement of executions for the accused standing trial before the ICT. The government openly supported and extended all possible moral and material help to the protesters so that they can continue with their movement till necessary amendments to ICT rules are completed.

    What would the judges do now to save their honour and dignity? Least said, Bangladesh is right now passing through a very crucial and interesting period having far reaching consequences for its future, especially in judicial and constitutional matters.

  • newtral
    Tuesday, February 12, 2013 04:13 AM GMT+06:00 (90 weeks ago)

    The ministry of law needs a shaking because of their inadequate knowledge to frame laws for the ICT.

    The resignation of a tribunal chairman for talking to an international legal expert on Skype carries the evidence; and now the question of appeal by the victim or the government is being settled by amending the ICT legal frame work.

    One fails to understand why the amendment can not be given retrospective effect?

  • BGen Mustafizur Rahman (rtd)
    Tuesday, February 12, 2013 07:49 AM GMT+06:00 (90 weeks ago)

    AL has fomented this gathering in Shahbagh violating all norms and rules - be it traffic, public safety, rule of law... What this country needs today is stability and reconciliation so that governments are formed every five years depending on popular votes. The voters will decide who will govern them basing on their previous performances in the power. The public should rest assured that whatever the govt does, they will be able to respond freely in the next elections. But AL is conniving to take away that very right! But is that the popular demand? Mr Editor, go back to the period of governance from 1971-Aug 1971. Was that the type of rule you as a freedom fighter had envisaged?

    What about these last four years? Now look at this amendment to the Tribunal Act. It is prompted by the mass sit-in at Shahbagh. Is that the criteria of amending laws? They are turning this country into a fascist type of country. Recall the mass gatherings staged by Hitler before World war two. He had a purpose. What is the purpose of this govt? To divide this small country again along Pro-Liberation and Anti-Liberation lines?


 

 


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