Say prosecution lawyers, witnesses; defence claims evidence, testimonies assessed wrongly
The prosecution said justice was done through yesterday’s verdict to those who had sacrificed their lives for independence in 1971, while the defence said the judgment on Jamaat-e-Islami leader Mir Quasem Ali was based on fabricated testimonies.
The international Crimes Tribunal-2 handed down the capital punishment on Quasem on two of the 14 charges brought against him.
His counsels said they would appeal against the ruling in the Supreme Court, terming the trial baseless.
Prosecutor Sultan Mahmud said, “The nation came out of the culture of impunity. It has been established that a criminal, no matter who he is or how powerful he is, will be punished for his crimes. There is no scope for doing politics on this issue.”
Another prosecution lawyer, Tureen Afroze, expressed the hope that the verdict would sustain in the Supreme Court.
“A snapshot of concentration camps worldwide, including Bangladesh, came up in this case,” she said, adding that one of the crucial observations of the tribunal was how Mir Quasem had been an integral part of Dalim Hotel, the Chittagong city camp of Al-Badr, which turned into the murdering machinery in 1971.
Quasem was known as Khan Shaheb in Dalim Hotel, said Prosecutor Zead Al Malum, adding that after the liberation the convict joined the Jamaat-e-Islami and became its treasurer.
“When the war crimes trial began, he on behalf of Jamaat recruited lobbyists in foreign countries.
“To call the trial into question, he even recruited Indian agents, the proof of which was published and broadcast in the media. Had it [appointment of lobbyists] been investigated, it would have been reflected in the verdict,”
Talking to reporters after the judgment, defence lawyer Mizanul Islam, however, said the judgment was devoid of law and justice.
“The evidence and testimonies presented [in court] were wrongly assessed and he [Quasem] was punished. If those were accounted for properly, he would have been acquitted.”
Regarding the charge no-12, for which Quasem was sentenced to death on a decision by a majority of the judges, Mizanul said, “This is the first time the tribunal gave a divided judgment.”
It is a matter to observe how the Appellate Division looks at it, he added.
Quasem’s son Mir Ahmad Bin Quasem, who is one of the defence counsels, declined to comment on his family’s behalf over the verdict.
Law Minister Anisul Haq told private channel ATN News that the government was satisfied with the verdict and hoped that it would be executed very soon.
“A conspirator and killer like Quasem, whose hands are stained with blood of unarmed people whom he brutally killed [during the Liberation War], got the chance to engage in politics in Bangladesh.”
Those days are gone and “now we can go to court and ensure justice through a legal process. This is our biggest achievement,” he said.
In another television interview, he expressed the hope that the attorney general’s office that dealt with the war crimes cases at the SC would put as much effort as the prosecution did at the war crimes tribunal to ensure that the verdict would be upheld by the Appellate Division.
“We will do everything we can to execute this verdict,” he said.
The witnesses who testified against Quasem said they were happy with the judgment and that they wanted to see its execution as early as possible.
“To me, today [yesterday] is like Eid day,” said Syed Md Imran, the first prosecution witness in the war crimes case against Quasem.
Imran himself was a victim of torture by Al-Badr men at Dalim Hotel, the Chittagong city camp of the auxiliary force of the Pakistan occupation army in 1971.
On instructions of Chittagong Al-Badr Bahini chief Mir Quasem, pro-liberation people from different parts of the city were taken to the camp, tortured and killed almost every day during the war, he said.
The verdict on Quasem brought joy not only to the people of Chittagong, he said, “I think it brought joy to all patriots and democratic people of the country.”
Like many others, Al-Badr men had picked him up from Chandgaon of the port city on November 30 that year.
Every day they shifted people from one room to another at the camp. On the camp’s rooftop, Al-Badr men carried out inhumane torture on the abductees to glean information about freedom fighters.
Some people were sent to jail from the camp. After December 10, 1971, many were killed in the camp.
“It was for my good luck that they did not kill me,” said Imran who had been released from the camp on December 16, the day Bangladesh came into being.
In his reaction to the verdict, he said he felt the same joy as in 1971 when the nation won freedom from Pakistan.
Expressing his satisfaction over the judgment, the third prosecution witness of the case, Nasiruddin Chowdhury, said Quasem had not only been the chief of Al-Badr in Chittagong city but a killer too.
“Had the capital punishment not been delivered, the whole nation would have been disappointed. I think martyrs’ souls would get peace,” the freedom fighter said.
In late November of 1971, Al-Badr men abducted him from a residence in Anderkilla, where he had taken shelter. They beat him up on the way to Dalim Hotel.
“When they [Al-Badr men] came to know on December 15 that Pakistan would be defeated by freedom fighters, they fled from the camp and then local people of Hazari Goli area rescued me on December 16,” said Nasiruddin, adding that he hoped the verdict would be upheld in the Supreme Court.
“I am pleased. I think it is a proper judgment and wish that the capital punishment of Mir Quasem would remain unchanged in the higher court,” said Sanaullah Chowdhury, who also testified against Quasem.
The people of the country will be pleased if the verdict is executed as early as possible, he added.
NOVEMBER 03, 2014