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Dhaka Tribune

Jamaat trial uncertain

Update : 20 May 2014, 09:58 PM

With all preparations are made and formal charges ready for submission, the start of Jamaat-e-Islami’s trial as a criminal organisation has been plunged into uncertainty.

A section of the prosecutors, who has allegedly been delaying the start of the trial, is saying “now is not the right time.”

In a meeting on May 11, acting chief prosecutor Syed Haider Ali asked the seven-member team of prosecutors – formed to press charges against Jamaat – to handover to him all the documents and reports prepared by the team.

In reply, Tureen Afroz, coordinator of the team, sent a letter to Chief Prosecutor Golam Arif Tipoo on Monday seeking directives. She also mentioned that the documents were at Tipoo’s office. The team stopped working on the charges the same day.

Last month, Tipoo took leave until May 13 and went abroad for health check-up. After that, the authorities issued an order bestowing his responsibilities upon Haider until Tipoo came back.

A complication arose when Tipoo returned on April 30 and submitted a joining letter. That letter, however, has still not been accepted and the order that made Haider the acting chief had not been revoked as yet either.

A few days ago, Tureen told reporters that they were going to submit formal charges against Jamaat for war crimes by the end of this month.

She told the Dhaka Tribune yesterday: “I do not have anything to say other than what I wrote in the letter. The team will accept whatever the chief prosecutor decides.”

Meanwhile, yesterday, the prosecution office held a meeting to discuss whether or not to try Jamaat right now. That meeting, without reaching any decision, was adjourned until Thursday.

Mokhlesur Rahman, who was present at that meeting, said: “The acting chief prosecutor adjourned the meeting because all the seven members of the prosecution team were not present.”

The members of the team are: Zead-Al-Malum, Tureen Afroz, Sultan Mahmud, Rana Das Gupta, AKM Saiful Islam, Sultana Razia and Tapos Kanti Baul.

Insiders said the main agenda of yesterday’s meeting was to get the resolution of the May 11 meeting approved.

The prosecutors, who missed yesterday’s meeting, said they could not attend it because they had been busy with other ongoing cases.

Sources said the meeting was important because it was called with an aim to settle the conflicts that had surfaced within the prosecution team regarding the trail of Jamaat.

Mokhlesur said: “The chief [acting chief prosecutor] wants to have a look at the documents because it is a very sensitive case. There is no other intention [behind seeking the papers].”

However, a source said most of the prosecutors from the seven-member team were of the view that now was not the proper time.

When asked about their idea on “proper time,” the source said the prosecutors thought that there was still a lot time left and the commencement of the trial might complicate the situation for other ongoing trials.

According to some prosecutors, the prosecution team formed for Jamaat’s trial was too big which triggered differences in opinion.

Chief Prosecutor Tipoo formed the team in March after the investigation agency had submitted the probe report.

Some prosecutors, who want to start the trial now, said the acting chief prosecutor sought the papers because he wanted to shift the case to another team. They also questioned the legitimacy of the resolution.

Writer Shahriar Kabir, a war crimes trial campaigner, told the Dhaka Tribune: “There is no wrong time for starting Jamaat’s trial. We have always said the trial should have started right in the beginning [of war crimes trials].”

He also said: “If anyone is saying that now is not the proper time, then I must say they are serving Jamaat’s interests. I request the authorities to remove them as soon as possible.”

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