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Dhaka Tribune

'No scope to commute sentence'

Update : 31 Aug 2016, 01:45 AM
The Jamaat moneyman who has spent a large sum of money to disturb the trial, however, got no favour from the apex court for being rich. The Appellate Division that dismissed his review petition yesterday mentioned about the matter and the grounds of rejecting the petition in the full text of the judgement released later in the day. “As regards the submission on the question of the commutation of the sentence on taking into consideration the petitioner’s contribution towards the economic development of the country by establishing business conglomerate and employing thousands of citizens in his business establishments which is not a legal ground to commute the sentence,” the court clarified. “It is within the jurisdiction of the executive. The court is only concerned with the culpability of the petitioner and the law governing on the sentencing principles,” it said. “Crimes against humanity are taken as serious types of offences. The word ‘humanity’ signifies humanness-mankind collectively. The term ‘crimes against humanity’ has come to mean anything atrocious committed on a large scale. These crimes are committed against civilian population during war. “These offences by nature are heinous ... Therefore, there is no scope to commute the sentence,” court said. Mir Quasem was convicted by the International Crimes Tribunal on 10 counts and sentenced to death on two counts. The appeals court maintained the conviction on seven counts and upheld his death on one charge -  the abduction, torture and murder of young freedom fighter Jasimuddin. But during the review hearing, his counsels confined to the charge relating to the killing of Jashim at Dalim Hotel – an al-Badr torture cell headed by Quasem in Chittagong town. During the hearing, Quasem's chief counsel Khandker Mahbub Hossain prayed to the court, if possible, to award his client “light sentence” on the charge of Jasim's death claiming that Quasem had not been the principal offender. The court said though in a review petition there is little scope to make any submission on merit even then it allowed Quasem's counsel to make elaborate submissions. He also placed a written argument in support of his argument. But the court noticed that the points canvassed by the defence counsel were reiteration of the points in verbatim raised at the time of hearing of the appeal. The court said that a review is available if there is error apparent on the face of the record. There cannot be a ground for review if of two or more views are argued on a point. “A review is not a rehearing of the matter afresh. It is only a clerical mistake or mistake apparent on the face of the record that can be corrected but does not include the correction of any erroneous view of law taken by the court. “The basic philosophy inherent in it is the universal acceptance of human fallibility but the points raised by the learned counsel are beyond the principles on which a review can be allowed,” the court said. The court further held that the court’s prime concern was to see as to whether the accused had a fair trial; whether he knew what he was being tried for; whether the main facts sought to be established against him were explained to him fairly and clearly, and whether he was given a full and fair chance to defend himself. “If an accused is defended by his counsel, it may, in a given case, be proper to conclude that ‘the accused was satisfied and knew just what he was being tried for and knew what was being alleged against him and wanted no further particulars, provided it is always borne in mind that no serious defect in the mode of conducting the trial can be justified,” the court said. The court found that there was no failure of justice in trying Mir Quasem finding him guilty as the principal offender. The court firmly declared that Mir Quasem was one of the organisers of al-Badr force at in Chittagong, and this force was raised with the aim and object of killing the pro-liberation forces and minority community. The force was known as “killing squad.” “The accused not only organised the force in Chittagong but also he had commanded the force and directly participated in the perpetration of most barbarous acts unknown to human civilization. He does not deserve any leniency on the question of sentence on consideration of the nature and gravity of the offence. “It was observed that the tribunal awarded the sentence of death in respect of charge No 11, which according to us, was ‘proportionate to the gravity of the crime,'” it said.
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