DHAKA: A Bangladesh court today sentenced a lawyer of executed 1971 war criminal and BNP leader Salauddin Quader Chowhdury to 10 years in jail for stealing and leaking the draft verdict of an international tribunal ahead of its delivery in 2013.
Bangladesh Cyber Tribunal Judge KM Shamsul Alam also fined lawyer Fakhrul Islam Taka 1 crore over the leak that had sparked massive controversy as Chowdhury and his family members at that time claimed that the verdict was prepared beforehand by the law ministry instead of the trial court.
Chowdhury, 66, was a BNP MP and the most senior leader from the party to be sentenced for crimes against humanity. He was executed at Dhaka Central Jail on November 22 last year.
"The tribunal also sentenced four others to seven years of imprisonment in the same case - two being employees of the ICT-BD (Bangladesh’s International Crimes Tribunal) itself," said a prosecution lawyer who conducted the case on behalf of the state.
Chowdhury's wife Farhat Quader Chowdhury and son Hummam Quader Chowdhury were also made accused in the case but the tribunal acquitted them of the charges after not finding adequate proof of their involvement.
According to the prosecution, Islam and his assistant, Chowdhury's office manager with the help of two ICT-BD employees stole the soft copy of the draft verdict just a day ahead of its delivery on October 1, 2013.
Police on November 20 arrested Chowdhury's lawyer on charges of leaking the draft verdict against his client.
Immediately after the verdict was delivered sentencing Chowdhury his family members alleged that the judgment was "prepared by the law ministry" to be delivered by the tribunal in a pre-dictated manner.
Chowdhury's wife and other family members also showed newsmen on the court premises a document that they said was the leaked judgment available on the internet and claimed it was retrieved from the computer of a senior law ministry official.
The tribunal next day confirmed that the verdict was leaked beforehand, calling the event a "a big conspiracy" involving a huge amount of money and ordered an investigation.
The ICT-BD officials, however, said the verdict was possibly leaked at its initial drafting stage ahead of its final revision for pronouncement as the leaked copy did not match entirely with the one which was delivered.
A detained staff of war crimes tribunal later confessed before a court his involvement in leaking the crucial verdict ahead of its delivery but alleged the convict's counsels assigned him to steal a copy of the draft judgment.