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ICT-1 rejects Azharul’s review plea on indictment

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Staff Reporter
The International Crimes Tribunal-1 on Sunday rejected the defence plea seeking review on the charge framing order against accused 1971 Al Badr commander ATM Azharul Islam of Jamaat-e-Islami as his designated counsel Barrister Abdur Razzaq did not turn up despite allowing several adjournments on personal difficulty.
Earlier, responding to the defence petitions, the tribunal had held back four times the hearing on the identical ground with a reminder as last chance.
The tribunal can’t allow adjournment for an indefinite period for ends of justice, said the court order.
Apparently irked, the tribunal said: “We’ve allowed adjournment time and again according to your (defence) convenient dates, but you can’t keep your own words.”
While disposing of the defence plea, the tribunal asked junior defence counsel SM Raihan Uddin, who was on his legs, whether he can make sure of the presence of his senior Barrister Razzaq tomorrow (Monday) if the adjournment is allowed, the defence counsel replied in the negative.
Besides, the review petition does not contain any material pointing out flaws in the charge framing order, the tribunal observed.
Appearing for the prosecution, designated prosecutor Zead Al Malum opposed the defence adjournment plea, terming it a ploy to delay the trial process on the pretext of personal difficulty over opposition enforced hartal or blockade.
On November 12, dismissing his discharge plea, the tribunal indicted suspected 1971 Al Badr commander ATM Azharul Islam for his involvement in crimes against humanity, including genocide, during the 1971 Liberation War.
Azharul, now 61, faces six counts of charges of crimes against humanity during the 1971 Liberation War like killing, abduction, confinement, torture, loot, arson, rape and genocide in Rangpur district.
A week after submitting the formal charge by the prosecution, the tribunal on July 25 took cognisance of the charge against detained Jamaat-e-Islami assistant secretary general as it found a strong prima facie case against the accused under subsections 3(2) and 4(1)(2) of the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act 1973.
According to the prosecution case, Azharul, the then Islami Chhatra Sangha (ICS) president of Rangpur district unit, had been involved in the killing of more than 1,200 unarmed innocent civilians in Rangpur during the Liberation War in collaboration with the Pakistan occupation army and its auxiliary forces like Al Badr, a vigilante group of Jamaat-e-Islami.
It mentioned that Azharul had played a key role in the killing of intellectuals, cultural personalities, physicians and lawyers in different areas of Rangpur during the war.
On August 22 last year, police arrested Azharul from his Moghbazar house in the capital in connection with the war crimes case hours after the tribunal issued warrant against him following a prosecution plea.