Dhaka, Jun 13 (bdnews24.com) -- The first war crimes tribunal has ordered jail authorities to comply with its month-old order that Jamaat-e-Islami guru Ghulam Azam be given four books on religion that he had requested for.
Wednesday's order came with a veiled warning where the court observed that it was 'unwarranted from officers like the jail superintendent'.
The three-judge International Crimes Tribunal – 1, set up to deal with crimes against humanity during the 1971 Liberation War, has indicted the former Jamaat chief on five counts of war crimes charges including incitement, conspiracy and abetment.
Tribunal Chairman Justice Mohammad Nizamul Huq called prosecutor Zead-Al-Malum to the podium to brief him about the position of the tribunal's order that directed the jail authorities to provide Azam with copies of the Quran, Hadith commentary, Tafseer (interpretation of the Quran) and a biography of the Prophet Muhammad. The court's previous order had not mentioned the particulars of the books but stated that those would be supplied by Azam's family.
The matter had been brought to the tribunal's notice some 'four-five days ago', said the order.
Justice Huq cited two prison rules in his order that supplying print materials to inmates, whether or not enjoying division, primarily required the jail superintendent's approval. In case of doubts over the propriety of the materials requested, however, the jail authorities could seek the opinion of a district magistrate concerned.
However, according to Malum's submissions, the jail authorities could not comply with the court's order because the magistrate had not replied to the prison authorities with his opinion.
The tribunal noted that the letter of the jail authorities did not note the doubt that caused them to send the books to the magistrate despite the court's order.
Malum could not specify the reason but said, "The prison authorities had sent it to the magistrate only because they had some suspicions, otherwise they would not have done so."
The tribunal said in the order, "We are of the opinion that the jail authorities ought to have given the books to Ghulam Azam upon receipt of this tribunal's order." In case of doubts, Justice Huq said, "They could have come for clarification. But that was not done."
In the meantime, observed the tribunal chief, one month had elapsed. "This gives a sign that the order of this court is not being complied with."
"It is unwarranted from officers like the jail super."
Justice Huq directed that this order be complied with within two days of receipt.
He ended it stating, "At the first instance, we do not want to pass any further order."
Malum asked the court if the details of the books could be added to the order.
Justice Huq said, "This is a good suggestion."
When asked for, Tajul Islam said he would provide the details of the books by 2pm.
"Just give it to the bench officer for insertion in the order."
Conducting Azam's case on behalf of the prosecution, Malum kept muttering in his seat.
The tribunal chief had dismissed him when Malum indicated that he had some submissions to make after defence counsel Tajul Islam said that the court should initiate contempt proceedings against the jail authorities for violating the court's order.
Justice Huq reprimanded Malum. "You are still talking! You should concentrate more on your case. That will be useful." 'Don't cross your limit'
Earlier, the prosecutor could not convince the tribunal about the jail authority's sincerity to comply with its order.
The prosecutor cited prison rules which stipulated that they should refer materials to a district magistrate concerned if there were any confusions.
The tribunal chair said that the officer concerned could have approached the court for clarification of the order. "That would prove a bona fide intention."
Malum pointed out that there were certain items supplied by Ghulam Azam's family which were not included in the order, hence the jail authority had no recourse but to seek the magistrate's opinion.
Tribunal member Judge A K M Zaheer Ahmed said he would still stick to the same point that the tribunal chair had previously mentioned in this regard. "You are to confine yourself to the court's order."
The tribunal had told the prosecutor that the jail authority could simply limit itself to the court's order which related four items and nothing more. He said it did not matter if the family had supplied more books that were not mentioned in the order.
The tribunal chair then took the prosecutor step by step through the order and what had happened since the order was passed. He said, "This is an order of the tribunal and you are to obey it."
Malum, who was contending that he was merely adhering to the law, could not make his point with the judges. Frustrated, he said, "Then your lordship can pass an order that it will be your responsibility and I can have the jail superintendent deliver all the books right away."
Judge Zaheer Ahmed stopped the prosecutor in his tracks. "You should not cross the line, Mr Prosecutor."
"I was about to say that too, that you should not cross the limit," said Justice Huq. 'Contempt', says defence
Tajul Islam stood up to indicate that he wished to submit too and the judges agreed. Malum still stood at the podium and Justice Huq told him stiffly, "Mr Malum, we have called Mr Tajul Islam."
The defence counsel reiterated his point that it was obvious that the prosecution and the jail authority were violating the court's order.
Tajul Islam said that the prosecutor's submission evidently showed that the court's authority was being challenged. He said, "They are deriving a fiendish pleasure out of depriving an old man from even writing materials."
The defence counsel said that it was as if the entire machinery was bent on giving an old man as much pain as possible no matter how petty or trifling.
He said such disobedience warranted contempt proceedings against the parties.
Zead-Al-Malum stood up to counter the defence counsel but was summarily told to return to his seat. "Sit down!" the tribunal chair said.
Defence counsel Mizanul Islam then resumed cross-examination of Jamaat leader Delwar Hossain Sayedee's war crimes investigator.