- Posted March 3, 2013 by
'Azam was like Hitler in Germany'
Prosecutor Zead-Al-Malum drew the analogy to point out before first war crimes tribunal that Azam, indicted for five war crimes charges, did not need to be on any government committee.
International Crimes Tribunal – 1 Chairman Justice A T M Fazle Kabir asked at one point during the prosecutor’s closing arguments whether the former Jamaat chief was on any official committees. “Does his name appear on any committees?”
Prosecutor Malum replied that Azam, then head of Jamaat’s East Pakistan unit, was the one who made things happen. “He was the one making all the decisions, why would he need to be on any committee? Being Hitler was enough for Hitler in World War II.”
“But he was a military chief, that was different,” replied the tribunal chief.
Malum said, “Ghulam Azam in Bangladesh was like Hitler in Germany. He did not need to be on any committees.”
The prosecutor also pointed out to the court that it was on Azam’s nomination that two of his party members went on to become cabinet members during the war.
The tribunal urged the prosecution, with the defence absent on account of a general strike, to wrap up the closing arguments quickly and move on.
Prosecutor Sultan Mahmud summed up all the charges including murder of one Siru Miah, his son and 36 others in Brahmanbaria where Azam was alleged to have written a letter effectively sealing their fate.
The prosecution holds that Siru Miah’s wife had gotten in touch with Azam through a relative and pleaded that he writes a letter to the authorities who had detained him, which Ghulam Azam did.
It is alleged that Azam, instead of instructing the authorities to release Siru Miah, who had sided with the liberation efforts, had in fact instructed that he be executed.
Sultan Mahmud summed up all the charges and handed over to Zead-Al-Malum who began to argue on legal points.
The tribunal at one point said that the prosecution was taking longer than necessary.
“You will be given an opportunity to argue on the legal points after the defence sums up its case anyway. There is no need to argue on those points,” said Justice Kabir.
The prosecution is expected to resume its arguments on Monday.
Earlier in the morning a junior member of the defence first apologised on behalf of his senior lawyers and prayed for an adjournment.
Mostly full members of the Jamaat-e-Islami, defence lawyers refrain from attending court whenever there is a general strike.
A key ally of the main opposition BNP, Jamaat is enforcing a 48-hour shutdown from Sunday morning in protest against the death sentence handed down to its senior leader Delwar Hossain Sayedee on Thursday.
The BNP has called for another country-wide strike till 6pm on Tuesday.
Jamaat Guru in ICT-1
On Dec 12, 2011, the prosecution brought a 52-point charter of charges against Azam and appealed for his arrest. Later, following the tribunal order, charges were re-arranged and presented to the tribunal on Jan 5.
He was produced before the tribunal on Jan 11 and sent to jail the same day. Since that evening, the 90-year old former Carmichael College professor has been kept at the prison cell of the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University for better treatment considering his delicate health.
Ghulam Azam’s indictment hearing began on Feb 15 and the court charged him on May 13.
A former chief of Jamaat-e-Islami, arguably the largest Islamist organisation in the subcontinent, Azam is allegedly among the key people who pioneered anti-liberation efforts in 1971 colluding with the Pakistani military junta of that time.
He is widely perceived to have been among core group of right-wing supporters of the Pakistani Army, who came out strongly in support of a united Pakistan.
Ghulam Azam, then chief of Jamaat, was instrumental in setting up the infamous Peace Committee at the national level. The Razakars, an auxiliary force set up mainly to actively thwart the liberation forces, are said to have been mobilised through the Peace Committees across Bangladesh.
Among the most notorious vigilante militia are the Al Badr, whose membership is said to have been mainly dominated by the Jamaat's student wing called the Islami Chhatra Sangha at that time.
The Al Badr is alleged to have spearheaded execution of the intellectual elites of Bangladesh just days before the victory on Dec 16, 1971.
Azam also spoke in favour of Pakistan to the Middle Eastern countries during the war, according to the prosecution.
He stayed in London for seven years after 1971 and returned to Bangladesh in 1978 during BNP founder Ziaur Rahman's rule. Having led Jamaat for long, Azam retired from active politics in 1999.
His party remains a key ally of the main opposition BNP. Two Jamaat leaders, also behind bars for war crimes charges, have even served as ministers during the BNP's last tenure in government between 2001 and 2006, when Azam's party was part of the ruling coalition.
Azam was indicted on five charges — 61 counts — including incitement, conspiracy, planning and complicity on May 13, 2012.