Chief defence counsel Barrister Abdur Razzak expressed astonishment at the verdict of a 90 years prison sentence given by the tribunal against the former Ameer of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, professor Ghulam Azam, on allegation of crimes against humanity in 1971.
After the announcement of the verdict by International Crimes Tribunal-1 on Monday in the case of Ghulam Azam, in an official response to the verdict Razzak expressed surprise during interview at his home.
Barrister Abdur Razzak said, “We are outraged at the verdict. We are surprised at the verdict. We think that, this judgment is unfair and manipulated by emotions. In the history of the criminal cases worldwide, such kind of judgment cannot be found”.
He added, “the prosecution couldn’t prove any of the 61 charges brought against Professor Ghulam Azam. This was the prosecution’s ultimate failure.”
The defence chief observed, “the prosecution described six events on the first allegation. These are: Ghulam Azam attended meetings with Yahya Khan, the president of the then Pakistan; with Tikka Khan, the military ruler; and with Maulana Moududi.”
“But the prosecution has completely failed to describe what was discussed in those meetings. Attending meeting with someone is no crime against humanity, these complaints don’t belong to the definition of crime against humanity. Still the tribunal has convicted him guilty and sentenced him to 10 years [for that]. This is unacceptable in the sight of law.”
“The prosecution filed the second charge depending on three incidents. These are: Ghulam Azam was involved in the process of formation of Central and local Peace Committees. Just being involved in the process of formation of Peace Committees cannot be any crime against humanity. If so, then the definition of crimes against humanity should be changed first. Yet the tribunal has convicted him of planning genocide & crimes against humanity and sentenced him to 10 years [for that].”
Barrister Abdur Razzak said, “the third and the fourth charge the prosecution brought are based on Ghulam Azam’s 50 statements. They have completely failed to submit any evidence other than just the newspaper cuttings.”
“The investigating officer in this case unequivocally acknowledged in his testimony that there is no such evidence that Professor Ghulam Azam’s statement had any effect on the occurrence of any crimes in 1971. This testimony of the Investigating officer proves beyond doubt that Ghulam Azam had no involvement with crimes against humanity and genocide.”
He said, “the fifth charge is the murder of a man named Siru [full name: Siru Miah]. Here the story of the prosecution is, the Pakistan Army killed the man in response to a letter of Professor Ghulam Azam.”
“The prosecution was unable to submit that letter to the tribunal. No letter, no letter carriers or mail, readers. Yet the tribunal, in their ‘wisdom’, indicted Professor Ghulam Azam for crimes against humanity.”
The defence chief commented, “In the history of criminal law of the last 200-300 years of our country, there is no example of sentencing someone based on such weak evidence. Yet the honorable tribunal has sentenced him to 30 years [for that].”
He said, “This is undoubtedly true, Professor Ghulam Azam politically believed in the integrity of Pakistan. He worked for the independence and sovereignty of the then Pakistan. But working for the independence and sovereignty of Pakistan and inducing genocide or crimes against humanity are completely different matters.”
Barrister Razzak said, “We believe that the charges brought against Ghulam Azam do not have any substance of genocide and crimes against humanity. This verdict is not a lawful verdict. We will file an appeal at the High Court against this judgment.”