British lawyer Toby Cadman, defending the Jamaat-e-Islami leadership, has asked Bangladesh government to get a review of Delwar Hossain Saydee’s conviction at “an internationally appointed, independent and impartial tribunal”.
Speaking at a media call in London after Monday midnight BdST, he urged the Sheikh Hasina administration to not execute Supreme Court’s life-in-jailverdict for the war criminal who is number two in the Jamaat pecking order.
He cited “concerns about due process and protection of fundamental fair trial rights” in making his case. The Jamaat counsel reiterated “very serious concerns” with the “deeply flawed and corrupted” trial process.
Sayedee’s third son Masood Sayedee after the verdict said they would appeal against the sentence although Attorney General Mahbubey Alam had initially said there was no scope for a review.
Alam later said nothing could be said for certain until the full copy of the verdict – which on Sept 17 reduced the war criminal’s death sentence to ‘imprisonment until death’ – was out.
The war crimes tribunal handed down death sentence to Sayedee, known as ‘Deilya Razakar’ in 1971, for crimes against humanity on Feb 28 last year.
Cadman said the verdict had no “proper basis” in Bangladeshi law and that the Jamaat leader had been denied justice in a “politically motivated” trial.
In a statement, he claimed the war crimes trials had “failed to meet even a basic standard of fairness”.
The foreign counsel for the party, that itself is facing investigations for purported war crimes in 1971, called on the UNHCR to put pressure on Dhaka to ensure that Sayedee’s case “is properly reviewed”.
He pleaded with the international community “to intervene in this sham of a judicial system, sham of a justice process”.
According to him, the tribunal judges and prosecutors do not have “necessary experience” to deal with these cases.
“Their lack of knowledge of fundamental principles of international criminal law and human rights law is apparent through many of these judgments,” he said replying to a question.
Cadman also questioned the Appellate Division judges claiming one of them was named in a ‘Skype controversy’ while the other had openly spoken in favour of Sayedee’s execution.
He claimed the verdict showed how the government had “absolute control” of the court system in Bangladesh which he blamed for ‘injustices’.
The Jamaat counsel further said the law-enforcing agencies had abducted Bisha Bali’s brother Sukharanjan Bali and sent him to India as he did not agree to testify as per the government’s order.
The British lawyer claimed Sayedee’s verdict had reflected the Awami League-led government’s will.
Immediately after the verdict, the International Crimes Strategy Forum (ICSF) pointed out that various quarters had tried their best to derail the justice process in Sayedee’s case.
“This included, among others, the abduction of a key prosecution witness, defence obtaining the register of prosecution witnesses in the safe house, hacking of personal computers of ICT judges and illegal interception of their personal communications etc – all during the trial of [Sayedee],” it recalled.