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Wednesday, February 13, 2013
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War Crimes Trial

Appointment of 2 prosecutors put on hold

The government yesterday halted appointments of two new prosecutors of the International Crimes Tribunals around two hours after they were given the job.

State Minister for Law Qamrul Islam told The Daily Star his ministry had suspended the appointment “temporarily” to have their political backgrounds scrutinised.

The minister without giving details said the suspension order would be withdrawn soon.

The solicitor's office under the law ministry issued an order to appoint Barrister Hossain-e Manzur and Barrister Sanyan Rahman as prosecutors for the tribunals around 12noon. The same office issued another order suspending the appointments around 2:00pm.

Insiders say the government wanted to be sure about political affinity, if any, of Manzur's father Abul Hossain, who is a serving district judge. Doubts in this regard were almost over, they add.

Law Minister Shafique Ahmed said his ministry would give effectiveness to the appointments today.

Talking to The Daily Star, the minister said the government would appoint three to five prosecutors to the Supreme Court within a week to deal with the war crimes cases.

The new prosecutors will be selected from senior lawyers, who are enrolled at the Appellate Division, to move the appeals against the tribunal verdicts in the crimes against humanity cases, he added.

He however did not mention the names of the senior lawyers.

The minister said the government would appoint the new prosecutors as part of reshuffle in the existing prosecution team functioning at the ICTs.

In reply to a question, he said it was necessary to appoint new judges to the Appellate Division for hearing and disposing of the appeals in the war crimes cases, as there were some vacant posts of judges.

The law ministry will initiate the appointment process if the chief justice sends their names to the ministry, Shafique added.

The chief justice has not yet sent names for the appointment, he said.

Controversy and criticism have been raised against the exiting 21-member prosecution team at the ICTs due to their poor performance in dealing with the cases on behalf of the state.

Speaking anonymously, an SC lawyer, who observes the prosecution team's functions at the tribunals, said most of the prosecutors excepting three or four were not sincere to their duties.

The lawyer said a senior prosecutor having the status equivalent to the attorney general attended the tribunals once in three months on average. A government policymaker had earlier asked another senior prosecutor to quit for his inefficiency in vain, he added.

The ICT-2 has awarded inadequate sentence to Jamaat-e Islami leader Abdul Quader Mollah, as the prosecution could not place the case and argument against him properly, the lawyer observed.

He believes some competent, efficient and experienced prosecutors have to be appointed to ensure punishment of the war crimes suspects.

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