CJ’s remarks on prosecutors’ inefficiency draws flak

Quamrul for rehearing of Quasem’s appeal excluding CJ, withdrawal of AG

Staff Correspondent

War crime trial campaigners on Saturday criticized the Chief Justice and the Attorney General for the remarks they made during a recent hearing of Mir Quasem Ali’s appeal against his death sentence.
Speaking at a discussion held in protest against the remarks they urged the government to think about an alternative Chief Justice and replacing the Attorney General.
The discussion entitled ‘Conspiracy against the trial of 1971 genocide accused: the role of government, judiciary and citizens’ was organized by  Ekattorer Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee.
While hearing Mir Quasem’s appeal, the Chief Justice described war crimes prosecutors as incompetent and inefficient and  accused them  of  doing politics with war crimes cases.
On Tuesday, a five-judge bench of the apex court chaired by the Chief Justice is scheduled to give the decision in Mir Quasem’s appeal.
In his reaction, food minister Quamrul Islam said that the Chief Justice’s remarks in open court made it certain that there was no reason to sentence the accused to death.  Either he would be acquitted, or his death  sentence would be reduced to life term or the case would be sent for retrial.
Quamrul said that as a lawyer he felt that no justice could be expected from a bench chaired by the Chief Justice after he said.
Even if the death sentence is upheld people would say it happened following pressure from the government, said Quamrul.
And reduction of death sentence to life term would of course be denial of justice, said Quamrul.
‘The fear of contempt proceedings would not deter me from telling the truth,’ said the food minister.
‘I would, therefore, specifically propose for holding a rehearing of Mir Quasem’s appeal by a bench excluding the Chief Justice,’ said Qamrul.
He also demanded withdrawal of the attorney general from Mir Quasem’s appeal.
‘Is there any place for us to  go,’ asked Quamrul, when the Chief Justice and the Attorney General speak in the same tune.
Quamrul also said the Chief Justice’s remarks led British jurist and Mir Quasem’s lobbyist Toby Cadman to say that the war crimes trials contained flaws.
Qarmul said that the state and the government had been put on the same dock when the Chief Justice accuses the prosecution of doing politics with war crimes trial.
Quamrul said that it was time for the government to think of an alternative Chief Justice.
Either the Chief Justice should withdraw his remarks or he should think whether it would be appropriate for him to continue as the Chief Justice, said liberation war affairs minister Mozammel Huq.
The remarks of the Chief Justice created a crisis, said Mozammel.
If the death sentence is upheld, he said, the campaigns at discussions and seminars would be that the verdict was given  under pressure.
He said he did not understand why the Chief Justice made the remarks before the media on a subjudice matter.
Law minister Anisul Huq, former law minister Shafique Ahmed and former attorney general Rafique-ul Huq declined to offer comments on what the food and the liberation war affairs ministers said describing the issue as ‘subjudice.’
Appellate Division’s former judge, Justice Shamsul Huda described the Chief Justice’s sweeping remarks against the prosecutor as ‘undesirable’.
He said none knew where the judiciary was being taken by the Chief Justice and the Attorney General.
A written speech of Appellate Division’s retired judge, Justice AHM Shamsuddin Choudhury, read out at a seminar by his daughter Nadia Choudhury, described the Chief Justice’s remarks on negligence in  war crimes investigation and prosecution as ‘contrary to fair justice’.
The remarks made ‘our judiciary questionable across the world, he said in the prepared speech.
He said Mir Quasem’s lobbyist raised questions about the war crime trial process referring to the remarks.
War crimes trial campaigner Shahriar Kabir said that the media reports quoted the chief justice as saying in open court that he was a member of the peace committee.
He demanded a statement from  attorney general Mahbubey Alam to explain whether he was attorney general of the state or the Jamaat.
He accused the attorney general  of criticizing prosecutors using the language of Jamaat’s defence lawyers.
War crimes campaigner  Muntassir Mamun said that the Chief Justice not only rebuked  the prosecutor but also the  fellow judges who sentenced Mir Quasem to death.
The important question now is that whether the judges who sentenced the war criminals  can continue as judges after the Chief Justice raised questions about their ability and wisdom.
Mamun said, ‘Being our adversary during the Liberation War the Chief Justice faced no risk of life and, therefore, does not know what is genocide.’
1992 people’s war crimes court judge Abu Osman Chowdhury said that in his opinion the Chief Justice was trying to find the flaws of war crime trials only to foil the  trial process.
Prosecutor Tureen Afroz said that she would vehemently protest against remarks that war criminals were getting convictions on the basis of the prosecution’s statements.
How then the Appellate Division upheld the verdicts of the International Crimes Tribunals and how the convicts were executed, she asked.
Daily Sangsad’s acting editor Khandaker Moniruzzaman demanded probe into why the Chief Justice described the prosecutor in Quasem case as inefficient.
Freedom fighters Nasiruddin Yusuf Bachchu and Mofidul Hoque, prosecutor Zead-Al Malum, journalists Zahid Reza Noor and Swadesh Roy, spoke among others.

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