Mir Quasem's appeal

Law Minister declines to comment on sub judice matter

07 March 2016 bdnews24.com

Law Minister Anisul Huq has declined to comment on the food minister's demand that a new Appellate Division bench should rehear the appeal of condemned war criminal Mir Quasem Ali.
"I wasn't a small-time lawyer. I've handled many important cases. I never spoke on any sub judice matter when I was at the Bar. Even now I don't comment on sub judice matters," Huq told reporters on Sunday.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina appointed Huq, the chief state counsel in the Bangabandhu murder case, law minister in 2014 after forming a government for the second consecutive time. And Advocate Qamrul Islam, who was minister of state for law in the Awami League's 2009-14 term in office, became minister for food following the January 2014 election.
Qamrul on Saturday called for a re-hearing of Mir Quasem's appeal before a new bench that, in his view, should exclude Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha. "Through a comment of the chief justice in court, we have realised what verdict will be delivered in the case. We have realised that there is no scope for awarding the death penalty [to the convict]," Qamrul said. Media reports say Liberation War Affairs Minister AKM Mozammel Haque also demanded the chief justice withdraw his comments on the matter.
After their remarks, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam on Sunday urged all to avoid making controversial remarks on Mir Quasem's appeal.
He asked them to be patient as the verdict on the appeal was due in two days. Earlier in the day, Anisul Huq declined to comment on the matter when he was confronted with queries from reporters after a programme.
He later told bdnews24.com: "The case is pending trial in court. I'm the law minister of Bangladesh. If I say anything on the matter, it will have an impact on the case."
"It can have an impact on the court. That's why comments cannot be made on any sub judice issue," he said.
Asked which law bars commenting on such issues, the minister said, "This is judicial compulsion. It is not only a convention or tradition, it is also incorporated in many judgments."
"Whenever a case goes to court, one must be silent because a single word might influence the trial."
Asked whether the food minister's remarks would influence the court, Huq said, "Please ask him the question."
The International Crimes Tribunal sentenced Mir Quasem Ali, known as the financial backbone of the Jamaat-e-Islami, to death in November last year for crimes he committed during the 1971 Liberation War.
Ganajagaran Mancha, the movement demanding maximum punishment for all war criminals, has alleged that a 'conspiracy to save the Jamaat leader' was afoot. The top appeals court had recently found flaws with the handling of the war crimes cases, besides issues relating to progress made by the tribunal's investigating wing and the prosecution.
This is learnt to have made death penalty supporters think Mir Quasem would escape the gallows like another Jamaat leader Delwar Hossain Sayedee. The attorney general, however, then had said the court's dissatisfaction would not reflect on the final verdict on Mir Quasem.

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