By Mizan Rahman/Dhaka
Bangladesh’s International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) 1 last week sentenced a man from Habiganj district to death and his two brothers to life imprisonment for committing war crimes, bringing the tally of cases it disposed of to 24.
Another case is nearing its end as Abdur Razzak Khan, the investigation officer and a prosecution witness in the trial against nine men from Jessore including Moulana Sakhawat Hossain, concluded his deposition on June 2. The hearing in the case is likely to end very soon.
Aimed at ending the culture of impunity and bringing the people who stood against their own people in 1971, to justice, the government on March 25, 2010, formed the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT).
But in the face of growing number of cases, the government on March 22, 2012 had to establish another tribunal named ICT-2 to ease the burden of cases from the first tribunal.
The government, however, made the ICT-2 non-functional through a gazette on September 15, 2015.
“We are probing around 30 more cases at this time including one case against sitting lawmaker M A Hannan from Mymensingh. We have already submitted probe report to prosecution in five to six cases,” said Sanaul Haque, one of the co-ordinators at the ICT investigation agency.
“The first year since the formation of our agency just ended in learning the work process. But after that, as we mastered our job, there was no looking back. We are very much happy with pace of our work,” the investigator said.
Haque, however, emphasised on enacting a law for the protection of witnesses in such sensational cases, saying it would make their work easier and give prosecution witnesses a sense of security.
“For so long, we are also pleading for authority to arrest the accused. Till now, we don’t have such authority. Whenever we initiate probe against any accused, he quickly goes into hiding. It made our work more difficult and that is why the tribunal is having to dispose of cases in the absence of the accused,” the investigation official said.
The first tribunal came up with its maiden judgement on February 28, 2013, sentencing Jamaat leader Delwar Hossain Sayedee to death. But the apex court on September 17, 2014, commuted his death sentence and sent him to jail till his natural death.
The country has already executed war criminals Abdul Quader Mollah, Mohammad Kamaruzzaman, Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed, Salauddin Quader Chowdhury and Matiur Rahman Nizami, after the conclusion of all legal proceedings.
Now it was the turn of Jamaat moneyman Mir Quasem Ali to walk to the gallows as the Supreme Court on March 8, 2016, turned down his appeal against the death sentence handed down to him by the ICT-2. The apex court, however, is yet to release the full text of its verdict.
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