Defence Team for UK national Chowdhury-Mueen Uddin condemn Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal as ‘underhand and irresponsible’ in their extradition approach to UK government
Legal team of Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin expresses dismay at the standard of trial in absentia of Chowdhury Mueen Uddin while Bangladeshi authorities continue to make statements as to extradition request to UK Government, although no request has yet been received:
Claims any extradition request by Bangladeshi authorities will be declined
State authorities have shown no desire to pursue justice through independent and impartial trials.’
On 22 August 2013 members of the Ekattorer Ghattak Dalal Nirmul Committee submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister. The defence has been made aware that three requests:
That the British Government should hand over Mr. Mueen-Uddin to the appropriate Bangladesh authorities to stand trial before the International Crimes Tribunal; or
If he cannot be handed over to the Bangladesh authorities that he stands trial before the British Courts; or
If he cannot face trial before a British Court that he be forced to serve any sentence handed down by the International Crimes Tribunal following his trial in absentia.
It is important to note that Chowdhury Mueen Uddin is presently being tried in absentia by the International Crimes Tribunal. His trial started on 15 July 2013. Months previous there were a number of inflammatory statements made by members of the Government and the Tribunal that Mr. Mueen-Uddin’s extradition would be sought and only if it were unsuccessful would the Tribunal try him in his absence. The Bangladesh authorities have not submitted an extradition request.
Commenting on this issue international criminal law specialist Toby Cadman said:
‘It is regrettable that the Tribunal judges took the rather extraordinary step to conduct the trial in absentia and not to pursue extradition. The Government of Bangladesh will be mindful of the fact that any extradition request will not be promptly determined, some requests take years, and that it would not be concluded during the present Government’s mandate.
‘There is also the risk that a British Court refusing extradition based on human rights concerns would add to the mountain of criticism that the Government and Tribunal already face.
‘This certainly speaks volumes as to the bona fide intent and tends to indicate a desire for a sensational, albeit political, victory, rather than any desire to pursue justice through independent and impartial trials. The document submitted to the UK Prime minister, whilst Mr Mueen-Uddin’s trial continues in absentia in Bangladesh, is both underhand and irresponsible.
‘The United Kingdom is not permitted to extradite a person where they are at risk of the death penalty – clearly a barrier in the present case. The numerous concerns that have been raised as to the fairness of proceedings in Bangladesh by a host of independent sources would have a direct impact on any English Court considering an extradition request. It is therefore highly unlikely that an extradition request would be successful.
‘The manner in which the Government of Bangladesh has curtailed any form of criticism by human rights groups, such as the arrest of a leading Bangladeshi human rights activist and the recent attack on Human Rights Watch bears painful testimony to the autocratic rule of the present Government.
‘The British Government is now being requested to hand over Mr. Mueen-Uddin so that he may face trial despite the fact that no request has been made and he is being tried in his absence. It would have been more appropriate for the Nirmul Committee to have petitioned the Government of Bangladesh and inquired as to why they have not requested his extradition.
‘This matter was first raised in the late 1990s and the British authorities, namely the Crown Prosecution Service, Metropolitan Police and the FCO Legal Department, all advised that there was no proper basis upon which to charge Mr. Mueen-Uddin under English law. It is unlikely that the position has changed since that time. Secondly, it is now highly likely that a British Court would rule, once his trial in absentia has ended, that double jeopardy attaches and therefore no new prosecution might now be brought in the UK.
‘The final issue refers to the request that he serves any sentence handed down by the Bangladesh Tribunal. The simple answer to this question is that there is no legal basis for this under national or international law.
‘Once again, the response to this controversy is an internationally supervised tribunal. If the Government is to be believed that the case against my client is so compelling and the evidence so persuasive, then what could they possibly have to fear from international scrutiny.’