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International Crimes Tribunal chairman resigns over Skype
DHAKA, Dec 11, 2012 (BSS) - International Crimes Tribunal-1 (ICT) Chairman Justice Nizamul Huq offered his resignation today in the wake of a controversy over his reported Skype conversation in internet with an expatriate war crimes expert.

"His resignation reached the law ministry through the registrar of the tribunal. He cited 'personal reasons for his decision'," law secretary Abu Saleh Sheikh Mohammmad Zahirul Haque told BSS.

He said in line with the system the letter would now be forwarded to President Zillur Rahman while a process would be launched to appoint a new chairman to the tribunal if the president accepts the resignation.

Huq's decision came days after the London-based Economist allegedly hacked his private conversation with Bangladeshi-born war crimes expert Dr Ahmed Ziauddin now based in Brussels.

A local pro-opposition newspaper published verbatim the leaked conversation in two subsequent issues in the past two days.

Law Minister Shafique Ahmed later confirmed his resignation but told newsmen Huq would continue to be a judge of the High Court, where he was serving ahead of his appointment as the chairman of the tribunal on March 25, 2010.

The ICT-1 today began its proceedings before lunch with only one of the three-judge panel while another member arrived during lunch recess and when the tribunal began its proceedings the chairman remained absent giving further impetus to speculations he could resign.

Lawyers belonging to BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami, whose stalwarts are being tried for war crimes charges, earlier demanded his resignation after the Daily Amar Desh published the reported conversation.

The tribunal on December 5 issued a notice on The Economist for "interference" in trial process and "privacy" of a judge and asked for an explanation in three weeks and asked them to keep secret the information which they already gathered hacking Huq's skype and e-mail accounts or face punitive actions under the law.

"This cannot be allowed in anyway," tribunal said as it issued the 607- word notice on The Economist's chief editor Rob Gifford and its South Asia bureau chief Adam Roberts.

The notice said after the constitution of the tribunal two years ago with the three Supreme Court judges under International Crimes (Tribunals) Act, 1973 the panel of judges declared in the open court room that they might need to consult with international war crimes experts and examine proceedings of such courts abroad.

It said accordingly the tribunal chairman sought and received expert supports of Ziauddin and several others now living abroad and was in contact with them through skype.

But, it said at that time, that just two or three days ago Huq discovered that his e-mail and skype accounts were hacked and at about 10.00 pm on December 4 he received a telephone call with the caller identifying himself an Economist staff who said the tribunal chief's conversation with Ziauddin was in their possession and asked him some questions regarding this information.

"This is how the Chairman became aware of this alarming development. This also explains a serious breach of privacy, hacking computer, e-mail and skype accounts and obtaining confidential information from the Chairman illegally which amounts to influencing a Judge of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh," the notice read.

The two high-powered courts or tribunals currently try 10 high profile Bangladeshi suspects of "crimes against humanity" accused of masterminding or carrying out atrocities siding with Pakistani troops during the Bangladesh's 1971 Liberation War.

The tribunal also ordered a simultaneous investigation by police and Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) into the hacking of a private internet conversation between Huq and a Brussels- based Bangladesh born international war crimes expert Dr. Ahmed Ziauddin.
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