Thursday, 13 January 2011

Taher case: HC summons Shawkat, Tribunal judge says he wanted to resign

Mohammad Abdul Ali, one of the judges of the Military Tribunal that tried Col (Retd) Abu Taher and others in 1976, yesterday gave his statement to the High Court bench, saying that he had become a judge as per directive of then Deputy Commissioner of Dhaka AMM Shawkat Ali.

The HC directed AMM Shawkat Ali, former adviser of the last caretaker government, to appear before it on January 18 regarding the Tribunal's trial that sentenced Taher to death in 1976.

Earlier on Wednesday, the HC bench of Justice AHM Shamsuddin Chowdhury and Justice Sheikh Md Zakir Hossain directed the government to inform it the whereabouts of the four judges of the Tribunal.

Appearing before the court, Mohammad Abdul Ali said, "Long time has already passed after the trial and I am now also an aged person. Moreover, yesterday evening, I came to know that I was asked to appear before the court. At present I can't remember all the information of that time correctly. In spite of that, I will try to help this court as much as I can."

The HC bench said, "Don't tell a lie; it will be problem."

Abdul Ali was first class magistrate during the trial.

Following different questions of the bench, Abdul Ali told the court that "Probably on June 14 in 1976, I got a letter of appointing me as a judge of the Tribunal. Before that time, I knew nothing about it."

Abdul Ali also told the court that he could remember that Col Taher was so far accused on charges of killing 32 people, including two women, and committing sedition and plotting conspiracy to oust then government.

Upon a query of the court, he said that he had told other judges of the Tribunal not having rules to pass death sentence in the trial.

The judgment was passed with decisions of the majority judges of the Tribunal, he said.

Abdul Ali had wished to resign from the post of judge but could not do so for the then military environment, he added.

The three other judges of the Tribunal were Abdur Rashid, the then Wing Commander of Air Force, Siddique Ahmed, the then Acting Commander of Navy, and first class magistrate Hasan Morshed.

The judges and lawyers of the Tribunal had taken oaths for not disclosing anything about proceedings of the Tribunal, he said.

However, Hasanul Haque Inu, who also faced the then trial, told the court that they would file a petition with the HC seeking justice as they were harassed by the military Tribunal’s trial.

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