Expressing his reaction to the verdict of the death sentence on the war crimes accused Jamaat leader Maulana Delwar Hossain Sayeedi, the chief of defence counsel Barrister Abdur Razzaq said: “According to the evidence and information that we submitted to the court, Maulana Sayeedi does not deserve even one-minute imprisonment, let alone the death penalty.”
Yesterday 28 February 2013, he was briefing the press at his residence in Dhaka’s Dhanmondi and told the journalists that the defence team would appeal to the country’s Supreme Court against this verdict.
In his written statement, he said: “Among the twenty charges brought against Maulana Sayeedi, sixteen were related to crimes against humanity and the remaining four were related to mass killings. The prosecution failed to prove even a single charge against him. It produced statements of 28 witnesses, and the defence team successfully refuted and proved all of those statements untrue.”
Forced disappearance and kidnap of witnesses
Barrister Abdur Razzaq, who is also an Assistant Secretary General of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islam, said:
“Hearsay statements of sixteen other witnesses were accepted as evidence even though the prosecution could not produce the witnesses to the court on the plea that they were ‘untraceable’ or that it was not possible to bring them. One of those so-called untraceable witnesses is Usha Rani Malakar. In her television statement she clearly said that Maulana Sayeedi was in no way involved in the killing of her husband [for Usha Rani Malakar’s statement, please click on:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DaCBP0XlYnA]. Another two witnesses came to the court only to try to say that the prosecution was spreading lies in their names. Ganesh Saha, son of oft-discussed Bhagirathi appeared in the court and exposed the falsehood the prosecution was spreading involving his mother and Sayeedi. Sukhranjan Bali came up to the court gate on 5 November 2012 to expose the falsehood involving Sayeedi the prosecution was spreading regarding his brother Bisha Bali’s death. The police kidnapped Sukhranjan Bali from the court gate. Until now it is not known whether Sukhranjan Bali is alive or killed” [for Sukhranjan Bali’s statement, please click on: https://www.youtube.com/watch…].
The Safe House ploy
The chief of Sayeedi’s defence counsel added:
“The government’s treatment of Sukhranjan Bali amply proves the extent of the falsehood of the charges brought against Maulana Sayeedi. What is highly surprising is that, while the prosecution was saying that witnesses were untraceable, it kept some of those ‘untraceable witnesses’ in the so-called Safe House up to 45 days and put huge pressure on them to give perjuries and false testimonies against Maulana Sayeedi. Eventually, when the witnesses refuse to give false testimonies, they were sent to unknown locations. As proof of this, we produced a document of five hundred pages to the court. The then tribunal led by honorable Justice Nizamul Haq did not accept that incontrovertible document.”
The Skype scandal
Barrister Abdur Razzaq stated:
“Later on, the leakage of Skype conversations between Justice Nizamul Haq and a Brussels-based expatriate Bangladeshi made it evident to the people of Bangladesh and the world at large that the government and the tribunal were hatching conspiracies to give Maulana Sayeedi the death sentence. It also became clear that many documents and the death penalty verdict were being supplied from outside the country. The tribunal rejected our appeal for retrial even though all these facts were produced before it. This is a big dark spot in the history of the judiciary in Bangladesh. This is how right from the beginning Maulana Sayeedi has been a victim of manifold falsehoods and injustices.” [For Skype conversations, please click on: http://www.youtube.com/results…].
“Despite the provision of law which allows an equal number of defence witnesses, the tribunal gave permission of only seventeen defence witnesses against 28 prosecution witnesses. Moreover, the seventeen defence witnesses were stopped again and again from giving testimonies and the defence counsel was prevented from cross-examining the prosecution witnesses on innumerable important issues. Despite all these discrepancies and anomalies, the tribunal did not have enough evidence to convict Maulana Sayeedi. But it chose to award him the death sentence.”
He concluded: “We feel outraged by this verdict and will appeal against it. We hope to get justice through the appeal.”