The International Crimes Tribunal-1 on Monday allowed the prosecution plea seeking acceptance of their three witnesses’ statements, recorded by the investigation officer, as their evidence against war crimes accused Jamaat-e-Islami ameer Motiur Rahman Nizami sans cross-examination.
After hearing both sides, the three-member tribunal, headed by Justice ATM Fazle Kabir, passed the order turning down the objection raised by the defence counsel.
With Nizami in the dock, designated prosecutor Mohammad Ali submitted the plea under section 19 (2) of the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act 1973 as their vital three witnesses have since died.
The ICT provision says: “A tribunal may receive in evidence any statement recorded by a magistrate or an investigation officer being a statement made by any person who, at the time of the trial, is dead or whose attendance cannot be procured without an amount of delay or expense which the tribunal considers unreasonable.”
The tribunal, however, granted the defence counsel to get the death certificates of the three PWs available with the prosecution.
Emerging from the tribunal, designated prosecutor Mohammad Ali told UNB that with the day’s testimony followed by cross-examination of the two seizure-listed prosecution witnesses, they have decided to close the chapter of producing the PWs except the investigation officer (IO) of the Nizami case.
“The IO will testify on Wednesday as the last PW,” said prosecutor Mohammad Ali.
So far 25 out of 99 listed PWs gave their evidence in person against detained war crimes accused Nizami before the tribunal.
A former minister during the past BNP-Jamaat rule, Nizami is being tried on charges of involvement in murders and torture of unarmed people along with hatching conspiracy, planning, incitement and complicity to commit genocide and crimes against humanity during the 1971 Liberation War in collaboration with the Pakistan occupation army.
Also the president of Islami Chhatra Sangha (ICS), the student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami in 1971, Nizami faces 16 counts of charges based on 16 separate incidents of crimes against humanity, in which at least 600 unarmed people were killed and 31 women raped during the Liberation War.
On December 11, 2011, the prosecution submitted the formal charge against Nizami before the tribunal.
On January 9, 2012, the tribunal took cognisance of the formal charge against Nizami for facing the trial of crimes against humanity during the country’s Liberation War.
On May 28, 2012, the tribunal indicted the Jamaat ameer for committing the 1971 crimes against humanity.
On June 29, 2010, Nizami was arrested in front of the National Press Club after a magistrate court in Dhaka issued warrant of arrest in connection with a criminal case over hurting religious sentiment of Muslims. Later, he was shown arrested in the war crimes case.