South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

Now all eyes are on the Supreme Court and the government as the latter prepares to appeal against the war crimes tribunal’s verdict that sentenced Jamaat leader Abdul Quader Mollah to a “lenient” life in prison.

The appeal seeking the death sentence could be filed as soon as next week utilising the amended International Crimes (Tribunals) Act, 1973, which President Zillur Rahman signed yesterday.

The defence of Jamaat-e-Islami leader Quader Mollah, convicted of committing crimes against humanity during the Liberation War, is also preparing to appeal against the tribunal verdict and to have him acquitted.

The defence and the prosecution have time until March 6 to file the appeals and the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court would have to dispose of the appeals within 60 days of their filing.

Attorney General Mahbubey Alam told The Daily Star yesterday that the government, which moves for the victims of crimes against humanity, would lodge the appeal under the amended provisions of the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act, 1973.

Parliament on Sunday passed the amendment empowering the government, informants and complainants to appeal against any verdict of the war crimes tribunals.

President Zillur Rahman yesterday signed the bill and the changes would have retrospective effect from July 14, 2009. The government would now issue a gazette notification giving effect to the law.

The attorney general yesterday said his office was working to file the appeal within next week.

Additional Attorney General and Chief Coordinator of the war crimes prosecution team MK Rahman said they would appeal for the capital punishment of Quader Mollah and the cancellation of the verdict of International Crimes Tribunal-2 that awarded him life in prison.

He said they had already received all documents required.

MK Rahman said the appeal will be made on the grounds that the Tribunal-2 verdict was not consonant with the findings of the tribunal as it found Quader Mollah guilty, beyond reasonable doubt, on five grievous charges.

The tribunal ought to have passed the death sentence, the additional attorney general said.

MK Rahman also said they were considering filing of another case with a tribunal against Quader Mollah in connection with him being a leader of Al-Badr, which played a significant role in the attempt to empty Bangladesh of its intellectuals at the fag end of the war.

The new amendment to the act now allows organisations to be prosecuted for crimes against humanity.

Meanwhile, Tajul Islam, a defence lawyer for Quader Mollah, yesterday said they would move an appeal with the Appellate Division seeking cancellation of the life term imprisonment of his client, and his acquittal of all charges.

In the Tribunal-2 verdict delivered on February 5, the 65-year-old was found guilty of five wartime criminal offences.

In two of the five acts of crimes against humanity, at least 350 Bangalees were killed and a girl was raped. The three-member tribunal awarded him life sentence (30 years) for the offences.

He also got 15 years’ imprisonment for his complicity in three other criminal offences in which six people were killed.

He was acquitted of the sixth charge.

On that day, people burst into protests after the verdict was delivered. The protesters, who had been demonstrating in Shahbagh since then, feel Mollah was handed down a lenient sentence and that he should be awarded the death penalty.

The protesters in their thousands demanded a ban on Jamaat-e-Islami and student organisation Islami Chhatra Shibir and their trial for crimes against humanity.

In the face of the mass outrage after the verdict, the government amendment the act allowing the government, informants and complainants to appeal against any verdict of the war crimes tribunals.

Earlier, the government could appeal only in the case in which the tribunal acquitted the accused.

The new amendment has been sent to the press for gazette notification.

Source: The Daily Star – 19/02/2013 (