In response to the sentence of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami’s former leader Professor Ghulam Azam, his son former Brigadier General Abdullahil Amaan Azmi stated, “This is a completely irrational and biased verdict.” He said that “the sentence was given vengefully with political purposes. Those who failed confronting him face to face gave this verdict out of dogmatic political fervour. We will appeal against this sentence.” General Abdullahil Amaan Azmi was present as the sentence was announced on Monday as a family member. He stood next to Professor Ghulam Azam, who was in the dock, as the sentence was given. He spoke at the same time with the lawyers sat in rows in front of the tribunal.
After the sentence was announced he told his reaction to some members of the defence team. At that time Advocate Saifur Rahman, Advocate Shahjahan Kabir, Advocate Tariqul Islam, Advocate Gazi MH Tamim and Advocate Sajjad Ali respectively were there with him. Abdullahil Amaan Azmi said, “Professor Ghulam Azam was not a minister in 1971. Instead of those ministers or government officials, a civilian is being labelled with superior responsibility or command responsibility.”
He said, “This tribunal was from the beginning riddled with questions. The United Nations and various other international organisations have questioned this tribunal. After Skype conversations of the tribunal’s judge were leaked, the tribunal’s agenda has been in question. This verdict is a reflection of the government’s wishes.”
Abdullahil Amaan Azmi said, “Professor Ghulam Azam is a veteran of the Bengali Language Movement. There is nothing to sentence him for. The tribunal said that no crime was arranged in his presence. Then how did they give him a punishment? We will appeal against this sentence. I hope we will get a fair hearing for the appeal.”
He said, “My father was on the side of unity in Pakistan in 1971. But he did not speak against any individual, race or party.”
Ghulam Azam has been sentenced to 90 years in prison by the International Crimes Tribunal. This trial has been widely criticised as being politically motivated, with no valid evidence provided by the prosecution. The judge himself stated that the prosecution did not prove any direct involvement in war crimes. During the trial, his legal team was limited to 12 witnesses, only 1 of whom was allowed to appear in court. The prosecution were not limited in this way yet were only able to provide 16 witnesses who provided hearsay statements only. Further analysis of the trial can be found here
Ghulam Azam’s son Salman Azami has responded to the news in several interviews.
PRESS RELEASE ON BEHALF OF TOBY CADMAN OF 9BRI, COUNSEL FOR PROFESSOR GHULAM AZAM
“Courts try cases, but cases also try courts”
– Justice Robert Jackson
The verdict and sentence rendered by the International Crimes Tribunal, Bangladesh today is deeply disturbing and unexpected. The defence team will immediately start in its preparation to mount an appeal, but with the issuance of this judgment today, the Tribunal has lost all credibility in terms of its independence and impartiality. The total lack of credible evidence presented by the Prosecution has demonstrated that the Tribunal has little interest in bringing an end to impunity and bringing justice to the victims of the 1971 War of Liberation. The Tribunal Chairman demonstrated this unequivocally by stating that “the documents which the prosecution have submitted as evidence were not adequate”, but then proceeded to convict Professor Ghulam Azam and pass a sentence of death (commuted to 90 years due to his old age).
The Tribunal was established with the stated aim of bringing to justice those who committed crimes of an international character during the nine-month armed conflict in 1971. It is the duty of the present Tribunal to determine criminal responsibility for specific acts based on due process of law. An Accused cannot be convicted for acts that are so unclear that he is unable to know what he is to challenge. An Accused also cannot be convicted for being on the losing side of a conflict. The only way an Accused can be convicted is if specific crimes can be attributed to his conduct beyond a reasonable doubt. This is the standard of proof in the law applicable to this Tribunal, and there is simply no way to apply this standard to the case presented against Professor Ghulam Azam in a manner that justifies his conviction.
The Defence argued during the trial that, in light of its legal, evidential and fair trial submissions, the Prosecution has not proven any of the charges against Professor Ghulam Azam beyond reasonable doubt or at all, and as such he should have been acquitted of all charges.
The Tribunal has a responsibility to ensure justice to the victims of the Liberation War, but it also has a duty to ensure justice to an Accused. Justice is only meaningful if it is fair.
According to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention Professor Ghulam Azam has been detained since his arrested in arbitrary detention and in breach of international law. The matter was referred to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, Inhuman Degrading Treatment and Punishment. Further, in a joint statement the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges, Prosecutors and Lawyers and the UN Special Rapporteur on Summary Execution have raised serious concern as to the fairness of proceedings before the Tribunal.
Despite these very serious concerns raised by the international community the trial against Professor Ghulam Azam continued and he has now been convicted by a judicial institution that has been alleged to have engaged in instances of prosecutorial and judicial misconduct that may constitute attempts to subordinate perjury and pervert the course of justice; both of which are serious criminal offences.
As is now well established, the Defence in this trial (as well as all the other trials before this Tribunal) has been made to endure a myriad of injustices and procedural improprieties, which has precluded the possibility for Professor Ghulam Azam to receive a fair trial from the very beginning. These improprieties include witnesses committing perjury, judicial and prosecutorial misconduct, and undue influence by the executive. These are very serious allegations that have impacted on the conduct of the proceedings. All such allegations have been summarily dismissed without further inquiry that now call into question the integrity of the entire process.
The challenges with which the Defence has had to endure in this trial have been manifold. Throughout the proceedings the Defence has been thwarted in its efforts to put forward its case or to exercise the Accused’s right to properly challenge the charges against him. In this case, one defence witness had been threatened, apparently by a member of the prosecution, with facing charges for war crimes himself if he decided to testify on behalf of Professor Ghulam Azam. Another potential defence witness was arrested shortly before he was due to depose. This reflects a similar incident that has received international attention, when a prosecution-turned-defence witness, in the Sayedee case, was abducted by plain-clothed police officers outside the gates of the Tribunal on the morning of his testimony. He was detained by law enforcement officials in Dhaka, tortured, and then thrown over the border into India where he has been held in custody ever since.
The plethora of concerns with the trials generally has been widely published both in Bangladesh and the international media. Following the publication in the widely respected British publication The Economist of last November’s leaked Skype conversations and e-mails between the former presiding judge and Chairman of the Tribunal, Justice Md Nizamul Huq with an undeclared third party, revealed to be a Bangladeshi law professor residing in Belgium, the scale of the injustice that the Accused has had to face has become clear. It must be stated that in light of the exposed transcripts of those conversations and emails, it appears obvious that even the most basic standards of fairness and due process have been wilfully ignored and the rush to judgment has become all too apparent.
What is also clear from the leaked conversations and e-mails is the overwhelming evidence that reveals serious judicial and prosecutorial misconduct and the collusion of the Government with members of the judiciary and prosecution to ensure quick convictions. Indeed, the exposure of these conversations was the validation of years of criticism of the Tribunal since its inception by prominent international bodies including the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales, Human Rights Watch, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Amnesty International as well as the UK House of Lords and US Ambassador for Global Justice, Stephen Rapp, to mention but a few.
The Government is rushing to judgment in order to bring about a symbolic end. Needless to say, we consider this a gross injustice toward our client, Professor Ghulam Azam. This latest decision constitutes a very serious violation of internationally accepted principles of fairness, which, sadly, reflects the conduct of this Tribunal since its inception.
Toby M. Cadman
London, 15 July 2013
 Quoted in TELFORD TAYLOR, THE ANATOMY OF THE NUREMBERG TRIALS: A PERSONAL MEMOIR 45 (1992)
It is widely reported that the verdict in the ICT trial is expected today. The flaws of this trial have been detailed on this website and elsewhere by human rights groups and the international media, but to date this has not resulted in any improvement of the legal process against the defendants, including Professor Ghulam Azam. It is with regret that we expect this politically motivated trial to rule against Ghulam Azam, despite a complete failure to provide any evidence to support the allegations of the prosecution.
Father’s day doesn’t carry any significance to me. Even so, I thought there is nothing wrong in writing something. Therefore I started to write this piece. I didn’t think it would get so long, so I decided to divide the whole write up into two or three parts. This is the first part.
I request that the reader should comment and share if you want. But please do not use abusive language. Please refrain from leaving abusive comments.
Father’s day and my Father (Part 1)
Our Prophet taught us “you and all of your property belong to your father.”In the Holy Quran Allah said “Rabbir Hamhuma Kama Rabbi-Yani Sagira.” It also taught us “Wabil Walidaina Ihsana” meaning show kindness to your parents. Do not let them they say the “Uff” word because of us. Alas, we are ignoring and neglecting our parents to a great extent by blindly following the western civilization and indulging ourselves in this materialistic world. If the readers observe themselves and their surroundings they can see the dreadful scenario of the parents and can themselves make an encyclopedia about it.
I am mature, grown up and well established physically, mentally, educationally, but what was I when I was born? How did I spend my childhood? Whose love, affection, caring, concern has helped me to rise? If they hadn’t taken the pain to raise me I wouldn’t have survived let alone reach this stage. Unfortunately we neglect them today only to indulge ourselves in this materialistic world.
All of us expect to have a long life. If Allah let us live to till we are aged and if we do not teach our children how to treat parents, then how can they learn how to behave with their own parents? Our children will learn from us, the way in which we behave with our parents. Alas, even when we do not treat our parents well we expect our children to treat us well. There is a saying in English “Children see, Children learn.” Could we teach our children something good? Did we ourselves learned?
We can meet father in every two weeks, that’s only for 30 minutes. Me, my mother and only one other person is allowed, sometimes my wife or my child. Our large, extended family members don’t have the permission to meet. We meet at the prison cell of B.S.M.M.U. We eagerly count the days to meet. The time finishes even before it starts.
On 11th January 2012 the court ordered to send Prof Ghulam Azam to jail denying his bail. No conscious people can understand the fact what harm would happen if this 90 years old had remain on bail during the trial? We have filed to Allah only against those who have put him behind bars like this. Allah will do justice whenever and wherever he wants. Definitely Allah will do it. Anyway from the prison he was send to B.S.M.M.U for treatment. A small portion of the 3rd floor was converted into prison cell long before. He was kept in that prison cell.
The building was constructed least 25/30 years back. He is staying there till now. Approximately it is 200 square feet room. One has to enter the room from the east terrace through the iron gates. On the west wall there are windows and doors. There is a big lock on the iron gates. The window panels and grills are covered with iron sheets. There is a long verandah on the west side but there isn’t any way to go there. As the west side is locked in spite of having a verandah little air and light could ventilate. North and south side has walls. There are damps on the walls, plasters are coming off. On the east side of the terrace there is a washroom, which is in a miserable state. One commode, a basin and a mirror on the top. Water taps are on the places where they should be. Old mosaic on the floor, and the floor is slippery, one has to move cautiously. There is a window A.C. on the south-west corner of the walls, but it doesn’t work. After several attempts we could convince the hospital authority to fix it. Mechanics went to fix it but the jail authority didn’t give permission. What’s the problem if the hospital management wants to fix the hospital’s property? Prison authority couldn’t give any answer. I have assumed if the A.C. is being fixed the prisoner will have some comfort which they can’t tolerate.
What does he do all through the day? What does he eat? That is where our heart grieves. He is behind the bars; maybe maximum sentence will be verdict. One minister has already said “if Ghulam Azam cannot walk to the gallows because of old age I myself will carry him to the gallows.” But we are not worried about these. My father has taught us decisions of life and deaths are made by Allah. He also taught us not to be afraid of anyone except Allah. That’s why we are not concerned about his prison or death. But we feel bad, our heart bleeds when he hear what he eats, about his loneliness. He has no complaints against anyone. We have to probe him to know details about him. The person who all through this life has seek knowledge, has written 138 books including translation (Tafsir) of Quran, is not allowed to read anything during the last 3 months. We after taking the permission of the court have given books to the prison authority several times. At the beginning stage the authority has given him the books but now they are not! What is the reason behind it? Authority is not giving any answer. The term accountability is almost meaningless in this country. Who is accountable to whom and why? They don’t care. At the beginning they didn’t let him have the Quran even, now at least they haven’t taken it back.
Now I must say something about what he eats. Those who know Prof. Ghulam Azam is aware of the fact that he never led a lavish life. He is a simple and plain living person. It is reflected in his food habbit also, rice, small fish, lentil, vegetable etc. He never liked big fish, doesn’t eat these fish until he is bound to eat. I don’t want say anything in details about hospital’s food list. After much pursuance an acceptable food list has been made, which serve the purpose only but not really appétit able. But did it solve the problem? How will he eat if the rice is cold and hard? How much could he swallow by smashing the rice to make it soft? Dinner is served before evening ,but his routine is to take dinner around 9:00 p.m., as the dinner gets cold he gulp down that cold and hard rice, chicken, lentil around 8:30. According to him he carries the responsibility of taking food only. Breakfast and lunch is little better but the menu is same cold and hard rice. Readers won’t be able to understand the standard of food cooked in government hospital and especially when the food is cooked for mass people. I say “one loose both the appetite and desire to eat after seeing these types of food.” During the time of our meeting (once in every two weeks) we take fruits and dry food for him. But he distributes it among the jail sentries. He can’t eat without sharing. We have seen this generous person to share even one mango with every member of the house including the maids and servants.
In Sha Allah I will write about personal side of Prof. Ghulam Azam in 2nd part. I will just say I am contended and blessed to be a son of Prof. Ghulam Azam. I express my gratitude to Allah to send me to this world as his child. I ask for everyone’s Dua – pray for me so that I can I can live in such away in this world to brightens my parents face I Akihirah (life after death)
Those who oppose Prof.Ghulam Azam, I am sure they do this without knowing him properly. I request them humbly
1) Try to learn about Prof. Ghulam Azam. Read his autobiography
2) Think – why do so many people around the globe loves him? Why they are even ready to sacrifice their lives for him? Why so many shed tears for him every day? Why do they pray, fast and offer Nafl Salah for him?
Finally I will ask Dua from everyone, please pray for him so that he has a long life and quick release with respect. I also pray to Allah “please make the people of this country understand, to have realization about him in return of every good deed of my life (however small it might be). Please don’t be late, let Allah raise the conscience of the people of this unfortunate nation. Let them be aware before they lose this precious, valuable person.