Kamaruzzaman Defence Responds to Conviction

May 9, 2013

Today, the International Crimes Tribunal-2, Dhaka convicted Muhammad Kamaruzzaman, the Assistant Secretary General of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami (“Jamaat”) of committing crimes against humanity in 1971. He is the 3rd such leader of the party to be convicted. Md. Kamaruzzaman has been sentenced to death.

Kamaruzzaman was admittedly a teenager in 1971. In the history of the trial of Crimes against Humanity and war crimes (starting from Nuremberg) no teenager has been charged. The level of criminal responsibility /liability that has been placed on the shoulders of this teenager is unheard of and unprecedented in the seven major war crimes trials since Nuremberg. The sole reason for the charge against him is that today he is the Assistant secretary General of Jamaat, a major opposition political party.His only offence is that he is a leader of this party.

We are appalled and shocked by the verdict. The prosecution had clearly failed to prove its case. Its star witness, Mohon Munshihad been exposed to have contradicted himself at various stages of his deposition. In his deposition he had given three different dates of occurrence for the Shohagpur Massacre and also for the killing of Golam Mostofa. This prosecution witness had also made statements which even the Tribunal had thought were highly improbable. The witness gave evidence that Md. Kamaruzzaman – then a teenager – had control over superior officers of the Pakistan Army, something which is impossible in a modern military structure.Also, prosecution witnesses who had claimed to freedom fighters were not only revealed to have been “fake” but also involved in criminal activities. Each and every witness had been exposed. Moreover, the vast majority of the prosecution case was dependent on hearsay – in most unattributed hearsay evidence – indicating the weakness of the prosecution case. It is inconceivable how a court of law could convict on the basis of such weak and very often contradictory and improbable evidence.

Further, the procedural unfairness in these trials has rendered the verdict unsafe. Although the prosecution was permitted 18 witnesses, the defence were restricted to just 5. Moreover, although the Investigation Agency and Prosecution were given 1 ½ years to prepare their case, the defence was only given 4 weeks. Also, the Tribunal forcefully closed the defence’s cross examination of the Investigating Officer which was one of the most important prosecution witness. And most importantly cognizance of the offences against Kamaruzzaman had been taken by a bench which constituted of Justice Md. Nizamul Huq, a judge whose integrity and independence were severely undermined in the disclosures made by the Economist and Amar Desh in the Skype Scandal.
The Defenceis of the opinion that the verdict is not supported by the evidence adduced by the prosecution. It is a verdict that falls below the standards of not only the Supreme Court of Bangladesh, from which the majority of the judges of the Tribunal have come but also far below the standards set by International Criminal Tribunals. There are good grounds of appeal and an appeal will be filed against the verdict shortly.

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