Friday, 21 January 2011

Zia executed Taher 'under pressure' : Moudud tells HC; court seeks US journo Lifschultz's statement on Taher's trial

A tremendous pressure from some repatriated army officers had forced Ziaur Rahman to try and execute Colonel Abu Taher through a military tribunal in 1976, senior BNP leader Moudud Ahmed told the High Court yesterday (January 20).

Col Taher was a victim of the conflict between the repatriated officials, who did not fight the Liberation War, and freedom fighters in the army, he also said.

Moudud was reading out excerpts from his book -- Democracy and the Challenge of Democracy -- as the court during the hearing on a writ petition asked him to make statement in connection with the trial of Taher.

“The repatriated officers had found a new ally in Zia after the killing of Mujib and removal of Moshtaque [who took over immediately after the murder of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib on August 15, 1975],” Moudud quoted from the book.
The two sides [the officers and Zia] needed each other in order to survive both as a class and a force in the civil-military structure of the country, the book said.
When it came to sentencing Taher, all of the forty-six repatriated officers summoned by Zia to discuss the issue wanted he be hanged, the book says.
Moudud, however, did not go for details about the officials.
Moudud Ahmed, a former law minister, quoted from the book, “The question remains: why did Zia allow the execution of Taher, the person who freed him from captivity and installed him in power? During the war they fought in the same sector and were known to be very close friends for long.”
Moudud finds an answer too: “In a difficult post-independence situation, Zia had to strike a balance with the repatriated officers to strengthen his own position in the army.”
A conflict ensued as under the leadership of Col Taher, Gono Bahini [People's Army, an underground offshoot of Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal in the early 70's] had killed many army officers, he said.
He told the court that he had put relevant information about the trial in his book and the HC should reach a decision not before going through it.
Moudud, however, told The Daily Star his statement was not part of the court proceedings.
He said his book is based on works of Lawrence Lifschultz, a veteran US journalist and writer, who had covered the trial of Col Taher.
The HC yesterday requested Lifschultz to appear before it at his convenience by January 26 for making a statement.
The court also directed Additional Attorney General MK Rahman and the foreign secretary to contact Lifschultz through email.
Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner of Dhaka Mohibul Haque informed the HC yesterday his office has no document on the trial of Col Taher.
An HC bench of Justice AHM Shamsuddin Chowdhury Manik and Justice Sheikh Md Zakir Hossain held the hearing which will resume on Sunday.
The writ petition, challenging the legality of the martial law trial, was jointly filed by Col Taher's wife Lutfa Taher, his brother Anwar Hossain and Fatema Yusuf, wife of Yusuf Ali Khan, who was given a life sentence by the same tribunal

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