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ICT snubs Qaiser’s counsel for misconduct

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Staff Reporter

The International Crimes Tribunal-2 on Monday came down heavily on one of the defence counsel for war crimes accused SM Qaiser, a former state minister during HM Ershad’s military rule, on charge of professional misconduct during the defence case summing-up arguments.

“Don’t prompt, don’t prompt… you’ll be driven out from the courtroom,” shouted the tribunal, pointing finger at advocate Abdus Sobhan Tarafder, and asked him to take his as he tried to shrug off the charge.

The tribunal’s harsh warning came as the tribunal noticed Tarafder prompting from behind, aiding defence case summing-up arguments by advocate SM Shahjahan for the third day.

As the top defence counsel, Tarafder tried to speak about the charge made against him, the tribunal snubbed him saying “don’t try to argue… you’ve been prompting on each arguments. This is highly contemptuous.”

Meanwhile, the defence case summing-up arguments remained incomplete.

Defence counsel Shahjahan so far finished arguments on five out of the 16 charges made by the tribunal against accused SM Qaiser.

During his arguments, although the defence counsel admitted the war crimes that had taken place in Habiganj during the Liberation War in 1971 perpetrated by the Pakistan occupation army and its cohorts, but he outright denied his client’s complicity in such crimes, terming those cooked-up.

He claimed that the evidence of the prosecution witnesses was confusing and contradictory, and the documents in support of the charges appeared dubious.

The defence counsel once again stated that there had been no existence of Qaiser Bahini, formed by the accused in 1971 in aid of the Pakistan occupation forces.

The three-member tribunal, headed by Justice Obaidul Hassan, adjourned the proceedings for Tuesday.

On February 2 this year, the tribunal indicted Syed Mohammad Qaiser for his involvement in crimes against humanity, including genocide in 1971 Liberation War.

On August 5, 2013, responding to a petition, the tribunal granted Qaiser bail, subject to conditions, on medical and humanitarian grounds.

Septuagenarian Qaiser, a turncoat politician, was arrested on May 21 last year in connection with the war crimes case.

On November 14, 2013, after perusing the formal charge with 16 counts of offences submitted by the prosecution and the relevant documents, the tribunal took cognizance of the formal charge as it found prima facie case against the accused under sections 3(2) and 4(1) (2) of the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act 1973.

According to the investigation agency, after the independence of Bangladesh, Qaiser, a former Pakistan Convention Muslim League activist, entered politics by joining BNP and subsequently became the president of Habiganj BNP.

Later, he quit BNP to join Ershad’s Jatiya Party and became state minister for agriculture in 1989. According to information, he lately joined the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) of Col (retd) Oli Ahmad.

Qaiser, as a local Peace Committee leader during the Liberation War, had formed a vigilante group ‘Qaiser Force’ after his name comprising 500-700 of his trusted men in Habiganj and committed crimes against humanity, including genocide, in collaboration with the Pakistani occupation army.

At the latter part of the Liberation War, he had fled to London and returned home after the August 1975 political changeover.