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War Crimes Trial against Sobhan ICT unhappy over defence stance

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Court Correspondent The International Crimes Tribunal-2 on Monday expressed annoyance over the plea of the defence counsel for detained war crimes accused Maulana A Sobhan allowing contradictions during cross-examination of the investigation officer (IO), ignoring the Supreme Court restriction. “This is annoying as a similar plea was rejected earlier in another case,” said the three-member tribunal, headed by Justice Obaidul Hassan, pointing at defence counsel Mizanul Islam. “Why are you pressing for it again?’” In the final judgment on executed war criminal convict A Quader Mollah of Jamaat-e-Islami, the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court had imposed restriction on taking contradiction between the statement of prosecution witness (PW) recorded by the investigation officer and the testimony of the PW made against the accused before the tribunal. After release of the apex court judgment, both the ICTs during the trial of the alleged 1971 war criminals have been carefully complying with the SC order which is binding according to article 111 of the constitution. During the defence cross-examinations of DB inspector M Noor Hossain for the third day, the tribunal also repeatedly asked the defence counsel to refrain from raising question to the IO over factual aspect as the IO is not competent to testify on the factual aspect. It’s a futile exercise as it will be of no use during adjudication. The tribunal will take into account the testimony of the PW made before it over the factual aspect, added the tribunal. The cross-examinations of the IO remained incomplete. On December 31, 2013, the tribunal framed charges against accused Maulana A Sobhan for his involvement in crimes against humanity, including genocide, during the 1971 Liberation War. On September 19, last year, the tribunal took cognizance of the charges against Maulana Sobhan as it found a strong prima facie case against the accused under sections 3(2), 4(1) and 4(2) of the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act 1973. On September 20, 2012, Sobhan, the number three man in the Jamaat-e-Islami leadership hierarchy, was held by the members of an army intelligence agency at the Bangabandhu Bridge toll plaza in Tangail in a case of violence. Later, the accused was handed over to the police. The tribunal, upon a prosecution plea, had shown Sobhan arrested in the case of the 1971 crimes against humanity. According to the prosecution, it received allegations like genocide, rape, arson and looting perpetrated by Sobhan, the then leader of Pabna Peace Committee (collaborator) and Pabna district Jamaat ameer, in collaboration with the Pakistan occupation forces, including Razakar, Al Badr and Al Shams, during the Liberation War. Sobhan had allegedly played a key role in organizing Razakar, Al Badr and Al Shams, the auxiliary forces of the Pakistani junta, in Pabna district.