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Tureen Afroz removed from ICT prosecution team

  • Published at 02:16 pm November 11th, 2019
Barrister Tureen Afroz
File photo of Barrister Tureen Afroz Collected

Law minister says allegation against Tureen found true

The government has removed Barrister Tureen Afroz as a prosecutor of the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) for professional misconduct and indiscipline, 18 months after she was suspended.

The Solicitor Wing under the Law and Justice Division of Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs issued a notice, effective immediately, in this regard on Monday.

Talking to reporters at the secretariat afterwards, Law Minister yes said: “She [Tureen] communicated with a suspected war criminal and we have recordings of their conversations. During their conversation, she said the case [against the accused] had no merit.

“It [breach of law] has been proved, and that is why she has been removed from the ICT.”

Saying Tureen used to perform her duties sincerely, Anisul added: “I don't know why her sense of judgment did not work in this case!”

When asked, the minister said that Tureen would be able to challenge the authorities’ decision if she wanted.

Reacting to the news, Tureen, who represented the state in many high-profile war crimes cases, told Dhaka Tribune: “I did not get a chance to defend myself. What type of justice is this?

“Did the [probe] committee inform me? Have they taken any accounts from me? I am sitting with all of my documents. Won’t they prove that I received Tk25 crore from Oahidul Haque and take the money back? I did not get justice.”

Suspended last year

Tureen Afroz was appointed to the ICT as a prosecutor in February 2013.

She was pulled out of all war crimes cases on May 9 last year over alleged professional misconduct, indiscipline and breaching of code of conduct.

ICT sources said the action was taken against Tureen for secretly meeting war crimes accused Md Oahidul Haque, former acting director-general of National Security Intelligence, and sharing case documents.

Gulshan police arrested Oahidul from his Baridhara residence on April 24, 2018, for his alleged involvement in crimes against humanity committed during the 1971 Liberation War.

A former additional inspector general of police, Oahidul had also served as the director-general of the Directorate of Immigration and Passports.

According to case details, Oahidul was a member of the Pakistan Army and was involved in various crimes against humanity, including murders and attacks on 500 to 600 Bangalis and Santals with machine guns at Rangpur Cantonment on March 28, 1971, during the war.

Tribunal sources said Tureen Afroz was assigned to the case against Oahidul on November 11 last year.

Md Sanaul Haque, senior coordinator of ICT’s investigation agency, told Dhaka Tribune that Chief Prosecutor Ghulam Arieff Tipoo alleged that Tureen and Oahidul met at a restaurant in Gulshan eight days later.

Tipoo said they found out about the three-hour-long meeting and her conversations with Oahidul from audio records found on the latter’s mobile phone.

Gulshan police OC Abu Bakar Siddique brought the recordings to the ICT prosecution team’s attention after police arrested Oahidul on April 24 and seized his phone.

Tureen had denied all allegations.

Earlier, in 2014, Prosecutor AKM Saiful Islam was removed from the prosecution team over similar charges.

Family drama

Barrister Tureen Afroz also made headlines earlier this year after she allegedly forced her mother and brother out of their house.

Her mother Samsunnahar Taslim filed a general diary (GD) against her at the Uttara West police station on June 14.

Seeking the prime minister’s intervention, Samsunnahar had alleged she was forced to stay away from their Uttara house for the past couple of years as Tureen was not allowing her and her son Shahnewaz Ahmed Shishir to enter the property.

Prior to that, Shahnewaz even lodged a case with a Dhaka court against Tureen over the matter on January 1.

According to case details, Tureen drove her mother and other tenants out of the house by intimidating them with police on March 2, 2017.

Claiming herself as the owner of the house, Tureen took the deeds and documents of the property into her possession, too.

She then went on to file a case against her mother and brother in May 2017.

Who is Tureen?

Educated in Bangladesh, Australia, the UK, and India, Barrister Tureen joined the Supreme Court as an advocate in 1998. She also worked as a solicitor of the Supreme Court of New South Wales in Australia in 2001.

She has been teaching at Brac University’s School of Law since 2006 as an associate professor, after previously working at Monash University and the University of Western Sydney in Australia.

Oahidul Haque’s case was not Tureen’s first as a prosecutor of Bangladesh’s war crimes tribunals, which started trying the 1971 war criminals in 2010.

The high-profile cases she represented the state include those against several senior Jamaat-e-Islami and BNP leaders — including Ghulam Azam, Motiur Rahman Nizami, Muhammad Kamaruzzaman, Ali Ahsan Muhammad Mujahid and Salauddin Quader Chowdhury, among others.

Last year, Tureen reportedly also tried to secure Awami League’s ticket and contest the 11th general election.