Bangladesh’s war crimes tribunal has terminated the trial against Jamaat-e-Islami leader AKM Yusuf who died last week.
The International Crimes Tribunal (ICT)-2 headed by Justice Obaidul Hassan gave the order on Wednesday.
The tribunal in its order said Yusuf was the case’s sole accused and the judgment would have continued to reach an order if there were others accused.
“We regret that accused’s sudden death has surely deprived not only him but the victims and sufferers who coming in the dock with the aspiration of getting justice narrated the enormous pains and horror they sustained resulting from serious system crimes,” said the order.
The 88-year old died of cardiac arrest at Coronary Care Unit (CCU) of Bangabandhu Medical University (BSMMU) hospital on Feb 9 after he fell ill at the Kashimpur Central Jail.
The Jamaat leader was suffering from old-age complications, said his lawyer M Tajul Islam.
“This order does not amount to posthumous acquittal of AKM Yusuf for crimes against humanity and genocide for which he was indicted,” clarified the order of the Tribunal.
The tribunal stated that the testimony of victims and sufferers who came before the Tribunal shall ever be considered as a response to the legitimate needs of justice
Yusuf was arrested on May 12 at his Dhanmondi residence hours after the tribunal issued the arrest warrant for him.
The ICT indicted him on 13 war crimes charges, including killing, genocide and arson on Aug 1 last year.
Witness testimonies for prosecution and defence ended on Jan 30.
Arguments in the case were scheduled to begin on Wednesday. Prosecutor Syed Haider Ali conducted a hearing for their plea for the judgment to continue.
Prosecution cited the case of former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milošević who died in his cell from a heart attack in 2006 while being tried for war crimes at The Hague’s ICTY.
The ICJ had later declared ineffective the order passed by the ICTY announcing end of Milosevic trial.
The ICT’s order on Wednesday said the Prosecution could not place any paper in support of his submission.
The Tribunal reiterated that it needed to know the exact cause of death of Yusuf who was in custody of prison so that necessary observation can be made in the judicial record of the case.
Thus it asked prison authority to submit the post-mortem report before the tribunal immediately and asked this portion of the order to be transmitted to the IG [Prisons] for information and necessary action.
According to the prosecution, Yusuf coined the term ‘Razakar’ for the auxiliary forces raised to collaborate with the Pakistani army during the liberation war.
It was Yusuf, then Jamaat’s head of Khulna region and a former MP, who trained 96 Islamists as Razakars in Khulna.
He also led all the anti-liberation war forces including the infamous Peace Committee, Al Badr and Al Shams in the region.
After the war, the Jamaat leader was sentenced to life imprisonment under the 1972 Collaborator’s Order. But he was pardoned under a general amnesty and released from jail on Dec 5, 1973.