War Crimes: Who delays the trial?

The International Crimes Tribunal-1 that deals with the cases of crimes against humanity during the 1971 Liberation War has finally realised that application of mind in spending time for dispensation of justice has not been judiciously maintained.

The three-member tribunal, headed by Justice ATM Fazle Kabir, came up with the observation on Wednesday during cross-examination of the investigator by the defence counsel for war crimes accused BNP MP Salauddin Quader Chowdhury, as it found mostly irrelevant between the prosecution witnesses’ statements recorded by the designated investigator and their testimonies against the accused before the tribunal.

“Why did you do this? It will not help you in the case,” expressing its surprise the tribunal asked the designated prosecutor Sultan Mahmud Simon.

The prosecutor failed to satisfy the tribunal for justifying their stance in this regard which takes the burden of delaying the trial process for long.

The tribunal said, “As a conducting prosecutor, you’ve taken prolonged deposition of the prosecution witnesses with irrelevant information in connection with the case without matching their statements earlier recorded by the investigator.”

“It’s quite natural that the defence cross-examination lingers due to long-drawn-out deposition of the prosecution witness, which the prosecutor cannot avoid responsibility in delaying the trial process,” said the tribunal.

The tribunal, however, tacitly admitted that it had allowed the prosecution to make depositions of the PWs before it as long as they wish without interruption.

The tribunal was also critical of the mode of cross-examination by the defence counsel for Salauddin Quader Chowdhury, as it could not fulfill the art of recognised cross-examination. “Sometimes the contradictions replace corroborations of evidence.”

Besides, during the cross-examination of the investigator ASP Nurul Islam, also PW No 41, defence counsel Ahsanul Huq Hena made efforts to discredit the evidence of the prosecution witnesses through contradictions between the PWs testimonies against the accused before the tribunal and their statements recorded by the investigator.

The cross–examination remained inconclusive for the eighth day.

Detained Salauddin Quader Chowdhury faces trial on 23 counts of charges under different provisions of section 3 (2) of the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act 1973, including genocide in collaboration with Pakistan occupation army, killing, extermination of Hindu minority groups, deportation, persecution and abduction in Chittagong district.


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