A member of the first war crimestribunal of Bangladesh has resigned citing illness. Judge A K M Zaheer Ahmed,who was present in the first session until 1pm, remained absent during thesecond-half when the court convened after lunch.
He has been visiting the hospitalfor traction on a daily basis. Throughout Ramadan, when court hours had beenadvanced by half an hour, the judge would join around 11pm after visiting thehospital.
He had much trouble climbingsteps and would take off his shoes to climb up the few steps visibly walkingwith much caution when the tribunal presided.
A few minutes left for lunchrecess, Judge Zaheer Ahmed was seen looking up and down across the courtroom,what later turned out to be his parting look. He also appeared to be smiling tohimself just before the court rose.
Judge Zaheer is in the habit ofgreeting the court, not with a bow like his two colleagues, but by raising hishand up to just about his nose in the typical gesture of a 'Salaam'.
On Tuesday, Judge Zaheer's'Salaam' appeared to linger slightly more than usual before he turned to leavebehind the two other judges. Judge Zaheer Ahmed had been appointed to thetribunal on Mar 25, 2010 along with Chairman Justice Mohammad Nizamul Huq andJustice A T M Fazle Kabir.
Almost two years later, JusticeKabir was appointed Chairman of the second tribunal on Mar 22, 2010 which wasset up to expedite war crimes trials. A former district judge of Shatkhira andComilla, Judge Zaheer Ahmed, till late, had taken upon himself theresponsibility of an 'interpreter of sorts'.
He would explain complicatedquestions of the defence counsels put to the prosecution witnesses and dictatethe answers for the benefit of the court stenographer.
There have only been prosecutionwitnesses so far at the first war crimes tribunal. The first defence witness isscheduled to be produced at the court in Jamaat-e-Islami leader Delwar HossainSayedee's case on Wednesday.