The trial in the war crimes case against Jamaat-e-Islami incumbent chief Motiur Rahman Nizami ended on 24th march after rehearing of closing arguments by both the defence and the prosecution.
The three-member International Crimes Tribunal 1 headed by Justice M Enayetur Rahim heard the prosecution’s rebuttal on the defence arguments, the last stage of the trial proceedings, yesterday. The tribunal may pronounce the verdict any day.
Prosecutor Tureen Afroz sought capital punishment for Nizami; Mohammad Ali, the conducting prosecutor, said they had proved all the charges brought against Nizami and death penalty was the only punishment for such an accused.
Earlier, the two prosecutors and senior prosecutor Syed Haider Ali had placed closing arguments for three days.
Tureen yesterday answered to some questions on incitement raised by the defence. She told the tribunal that incitement had long been recognised as an independent offence in many countries including the UK.
Nizami is facing 16 war crimes charges for his alleged involvement in the crimes against humanity, genocide, rape and incitement, especially in Pabna and Dhaka, during the 1971 Liberation War.
On November 13 last year, the tribunal, then led by Justice ATM Fazle Kabir, kept the case waiting for the verdict.
It drew conclusion to the case against the backdrop of continuous failure of the defence to appear before the court. However, it also gave the defence an opportunity to place its argument.
Justice Kabir retired on December 31 before pronouncing the judgement. On February 24, Justice Enayetur was appointed as the new chairman of the tribunal. Following a defence petition which was also supported by prosecutor Mohammad Ali, the tribunal decided to hear afresh the closing arguments that began on March 10.
In their arguments over four days, the defence termed Nizami “innocent” and said he had not been involved with any crimes stated in the charge sheet.
Earlier, chief defence counsel Abdur Razzak placed legal arguments while this time Mizanul Islam and Tajul Islam did the job.
The defence said Nizami in his addresses had not directed to kill or destroy in whole or part any racial, religious, ethnic or national group that are components of genocide charge. Since he did not target any of those groups, it would not be genocide.
The defence admitted that Nizami was the chief of Islami Chhatra Sangha, the student body of Jamaat at that time, but also strongly claimed that the prosecution could not produce any evidence to prove that the accused was also the chief of al-Badr – the notorious group responsible for systematic abduction and killing of intellectuals at the fag end of the Liberation War.
Tribunal 1 earlier gave verdicts against Jamaat leader Delawar Hossain Sayedee, its former chief Ghulam Azam and BNP lawmaker Salauddin Quader Chowdhury.
It took the tribunal 30 days to deliver the verdict in Sayedee’s case after the closing arguments had been complete, two months in Ghulam Azam’s case and more than two months in the case against Salauddin Quader.