The war crimes tribunal blamed inadequacy of prosecution documents behind the unusual three-month delay in giving Jamaat guru Ghulam Azam’s judgement since his trial ended on Apr 17.
The other judgements have typically come within under a month of trial conclusion. Azam was sentenced to 90 years in prison for conspiracy, planning, incitement, complicity and murder during the 1971 Liberation War when he headed Jamaat-e-Islami.
Tribunal chief, Justice A T M Fazle Kabir acknowledged the speculation and apprehension centring around the delay in delivering this significant judgement.
“There have been criticisms in the media,” he said remarking that there may well be criticisms — as long as there were no allegations or accusations.
The presiding judge of the International Crimes Tribunal-1 said that Ghulam Azam’s case was distinct from the others for two specific reasons. “There are no allegations that he was physically present at any crime scene. And secondly, there are no allegations that he actively directed the commission of war crimes.”
The judge said that most of the evidence against Ghulam Azam was based on documents, essentially news reports.
“It would have been better if the prosecution had submitted more scholastic material like books, research paper or journal articles.”
Justice Kabir said that it was perhaps unwise to depend entirely on news reports since they were written immediately after the event without affording the journalist much time to think.
“Books and journals, they are different. The authors get more time to reflect on the events and research the matter, which make them more authentic,” observed Justice Kabir.
“But the prosecution did not really provide us with much, in a manner of speaking.” He also lamented about the inadequate reference material at the tribunal saying that there was just one full volume of the authoritative ‘Muktijuddher Dolilpotro’ for both the tribunals, by way of an example.
The tribunal, he said, went out and collected relevant material on its own. “We needed to satisfy ourselves. It was also necessary for a better judgement.”
“This took us a long time. That is why it took us three months to give the judgement,” Justice Kabir continued, “But we are still not too satisfied with the documents we were able to collect.”
It took this long only to enrich the judgement, the presiding judge told a packed courtroom before he handed over to co-judge Justice Anwarul Haque who read the first part of the judgement.