HC to hear legality of Gen Zia’s kangaroo courts | 2019-05-17 | daily-sun.com

HC to hear legality of Gen Zia’s kangaroo courts

Staff Correspondent

17 May, 2019 12:00 AM printer

The High Court is likely to hear next week a writ petition challenging legality of trial and conviction of people by kangaroos courts during the rule of assassinated military dictator Ziaur Rahman, who was himself killed in an abortive coup in 1981.

Advocate Matiur Rahman filed the petition with the High Court on behalf of 88 aggrieved families on April 27.

Talking to the Daily Sun, Awami League Advisory Council Member Advocate Yusuf Hossain Humayun, counsel for the 88 families, said the petition was likely to be heard next week.

“The military tribunal and trial were unconstitutional and devoid of basic principle of law. The accused people were neither allowed to appoint counsel during trial nor file appeal against verdict,” he said.

Earlier, on May 20, 2013, the HC termed the execution of Sector Commander Col Abu Taher after being tried in a kangaroo tribunal order in 1976 an “outright murder”.

In the full text of verdict, the HC also termed the military tribunal’s judgment “illegal”.

Terming the executions as a “cold blooded assassination”, the judges who passed the verdict said Ziaur Rahman, the then chief martial law administrator, had decided to execute Taher much before the formation of the so-called tribunal

In the writ petition, the aggrieved family members of the victims sought compensation for wrongful trial and miscarriage of justice.The petitioners also demanded punishment of those who manned the military courts as judges under Zia’s military rule.

The petition is likely to be heard by a division bench of Justice FRM Nazmul Ahasan and Justice KM Kamrul Kader, sources said.

Around 16 people including freedom fighter Col Abu Taher were sentenced to death by military tribunals during Zia rule.

The military tribunal did not follow the basic principle of law and fundamental rights of the litigants.

Sources said accused persons were not allowed to appoint counsels to defend them while convicts could not file appeal against the verdicts passed by the military tribunals.

It also directed the government to try those who were involved with the so-called trial, if any of them are still alive.

The verdict, passed by Justice AHM Shamsuddin Chowdhury and Justice Sheikh Md Zakir Hossain, was originally announced on March 22, 2011.

On Aug 23, 2010, Taher’s wife Lutfa Taher, Anwar Hossain, the then vice- chancellor of Jahangirnagar University, and flight sergeant Abu Yusuf Khan’s wife Fatema Yusuf jointly filed a petition with the High Court challenging legality of the military trial.

In the judgment, the HC cited some portions of the book written by BNP leader Moudud Ahmed. According to HC, Zia had formed the military tribunal to sentence Col Taher to death in order to satisfy army officials who had returned from Pakistan.

Declaring the military tribunal and the trial unconstitutional, the HC said the trial and execution of freedom fighter Col Abu Taher in 1976 was masterminded by the then chief martial law administrator, Gen Ziaur Rahman.

Col Taher was a sector commander during the 1971 Liberation War of Bangladesh.

His supporters say he had a role in the soldiers’ uprising on November 7, 1975 AND FREED Ziaur Rahman from his Dhaka Cantonment official residence.

Taher was later arrested and put on trial by a military tribunal that he was awarded capital punishment on charges of mutiny and treason. He was executed on July 21, 1976.

Sixteen others including politicians Sirajul Alam Khan, ASM Abdur Rab, Maj (retd) Zia Uddin, Hasanul Huq Inu, Sharif Nurul Ambia, and Mahmudur Rahman Manna were also tried on the same charges and sentenced to various jail terms.