South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

The ICT-2 pronounced its maiden verdict on a crimes against humanity case on Monday awarding death sentence to fugitive and expelled Jamaat member Abul Kalam Azad, also known as Bachchu Razakar.

The nation had to wait for 41 years for this day.

The International Crimes Tribunal-2, set up to try those accused of committing crimes against humanity during the country’s Liberation War in 1971 passed the verdict amid tight security.

ICT-2 Chief Justice Obaidul Hassan earlier read the summary of the 112-page verdict.

The ICT-2 delivered the verdict at the room of International Crimes Tribunal-1 today following space crisis due to huge presence of people particularly journalists and lawyers at the court room.

Azad, the former leader of Islami Chhatra Sangha, the then student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami, went into hiding around seven hours before ICT-2 issued an arrest warrant against him on April 3, last year. He used to present a television show on Islamic issues.

Earlier on November 4, Azad was indicted with eight charges of crimes against humanity, based on eight incidents that left at least 12 unarmed people dead and two women raped in Faridpur during the country’s Liberation War.

Azad was active in Jamaat-e-Islami but was later expelled from the political party, according to an investigation agency.

On December 26, 2012, the three-member Tribunal-2 led by Justice Obaidul Hassan with members Justice Md Mozibur Rahman Miah and Judge M Shahinur Islam kept Azad’s case waiting for verdict after the conclusion of closing arguments.

Wrapping up the arguments between December 23 and 26, 2012, the prosecution appealed for capital punishment for Azad, while the state-appointed defence counsel sought his exemption from the eight charges.

On March 25, 2012, three days after the Tribunal-2 was formed, the prosecution submitted a petition for issuing arrest warrant against Azad, also a close associate of another war-crimes accused Jamaat leader Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed.

It asked for the warrant as an investigation was going on against him in connection with crimes against humanity.

On April 3, 2012, the tribunal issued the warrant but Azad had made a run for it.

On July 26, 2012, the investigation agency, formed to deal with war crimes probes, completed its enquiry on Azad and handed over the report to the prosecution on July 29, 2012.

On September 2, 2012, the prosecution submitted the formal charges against Azad, accusing him of 10 types of crimes against humanity.

On September 9, 2012, the tribunal took the charges into cognisance.

On October 7, 2012, the tribunal decided to hold Azad’s trial in his absence as even after publication of newspaper ads asking him to appear before the tribunal he failed to show up.

The tribunal appointed Supreme Court lawyer Abdus Sukur Khan as the defence lawyer for Azad.

On November 4, 2012, the tribunal indicted Azad.

Since November 26, a total 22 prosecution witnesses, including alleged victims and family members of victims, and the investigation officer of the case, have testified.

The state-appointed defence counsel failed to produce any witnesses due to “non-cooperation” of Azad’s family members.

Prosecution and defence placed their closing arguments on December 23, 24 and 26.

Meanwhile, the case against Jamaat leader Abdul Quader Mollah, pending with the same court, was also kept waiting for verdict delivery.

Source: The Daily Star – 21/01/2013