13 Jan 2013: ICT 2 Daily Summary – Qader Molla Defense Closing Arguments

Today, ICT 2 heard matters in the following cases:

  1. Chief Prosecutor vs. Abdul Quader Molla – Defense Closing Arguments (Accused was Present)

The Defense focused their submissions on the following legal points:

  • The case was brought to the ICT without filing the appropriate legal complaint
  • The transfer of the case from a domestic court to the ICT was improper and did not follow appropriate procedure.
  • The Investigating Officer improperly submitted the Investigation Report before completion of investigation and did not follow procedure in maintaining the Case Diary.
  • The evidence provided by prosecution witnesses 4 and 7 is flawed and contradictory

On behalf of Qader Molla, Defense counsel Tarafdar continued the closing arguments by attacking the instigation of the case and then by analysing the prosecution’s evidence and witness testimony.

The Case Was Not Properly Instigated
The Defense claimed that the case against Qader Molla was improperly instigated because an initial complaint containing the allegations against the Accused was not filed before the ICT. Tarafdar pointed out that the case began after cases pending  against Qader Molla in Pallabi and Keranigonj, based on complaints filed in the respective area’s police stations, were sent from the Dhaka Metropolitan Magistrates’ Court to the Registrar’s office at the ICT. The Defense questioned whether 1) it was appropriate for the records of cases pending before a court to be transferred to the tribunal in this manner and 2)whether the tribunal may proceed with cases that are ongoing under the Penal Code.

The Defense argued that a case must be instituted by filing a complaint against the accused or suspect.  Although the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act 1973 contains no such provision, the Defense argued that the International Crimes (Tribunal-2) Rules of Procedure 2012 implies a similar requirement.  Rule 2(6) defines “complaint” as any information, oral or in writing obtained by the Investigation Agency including its own knowledge relating to the commission of a crime under section 3(2) of the 1973 Act. The Defense claimed that no such information was ever obtained.

The Defense argued that the two cases that were transferred from the Metropolitan Magistrates Court to the ICT (Case No.34 of Keraniganj police station, dated 31 December 2007;  and Case No. 60 of Pollobi police station, dated 25 January 2008)  were based on the Penal Code and so are outside the jurisdiction of the tribunal. The Defense further argued that the 1973 Act and the 2010 Rules of Procedure contain no provision allowing for the transfer of such cases to the ICT. The Defense argued that such transfer is not allowed and that due to these and other procedural improprieties, the investigation and initiation of the case against Qader Molla in the ICT should be nullified.

Irregularities in the Investigation Process
The Defense further alleged that there had been irregularities in the investigation process. They noted that the Investigation Report was submitted by the Investigation Officer (IO) before the completion of the investigation and that the Case Diary in which the investigation progress is recorded was not properly kept afterwards. The Defense noted that the IO, who later gave testimony as prosecution witness 12, only referred to 3 of the 6 charges ultimately brought against Qader Molla during in his examination-in-chief. Therefore the Defense claimed the investigation was flawed and the charges ultimately framed against Qader Molla were similarly flawed.

The Defense stated that the Investigation Officer (IO) began his investigation on 22 July 2010. As per Rule 8(1), the IO is required to maintain a Case Diary until the completion of the investigation and as per Rule 11, he must submit an Investigation Report after the completion of the investigation.The Defense highlighted that the IO admitted during his testimony that he continued his investigation after submitting the investigation report, contrary to Rule 11. The Defense argued that the IO does not have lawful authority to continue investigation in this manner. Furthermore, they argued that Section 8(4) of the 1973 Act provides for only one IO as the wording “any investigation officer” has been used.  The Defense stated that the prosecution team also investigated, and that this duplicated the job of the IO in a way not provided for in the Act. The investigation was thus flawed on the basis of which charges have been brought which were also flawed.

The judges requested the Defense to address the underlying evidential defects in regards to each of the charges, asking Tarafdar to deal with each charge chronologically and separately. The Defense chose to begin with Charge 4 even though the Judges suggested he begin with Charge 1.

Witness Testimony in favor of Charge 4 is Not Credible:
The Defense began criticizing the prosecution’s evidence for charge 4 by attacking the witnesses who testified in support of the charge (PWs 1,7 and 8).

The Defense noted that Prosecution Witness 1, Mr Mozaffar Ali Khan, testified in support of charge 4, alleging that he saw Qader Molla in front of Mirpur Physical Training Centre and that he was armed and accompanied by along with his associates. He neither saw the incident alleged in the charge, nor Quader Molla’s participation in it. The Defense further noted that the withness had previously testified before the Chief Judicial Magistrate pertaining to a case filed in 2007 [CR Case No. 17/2007 in CMM Court, subsequently transformed to GR Case No. 34(12)2007 in Keranigonj Police Station], but did not make any statement implicating Qader Molla.

The Defense additionally noted that Mozaffar Ali Khan had been acquainted with the accused since 1969 due to political rivalry. Yet Mr. Khan did not complain about the accused after the liberation war, which gives rise to further doubt in regards the involvement of the accused.

The Defense then focused on prosecution witness 7, Mr Abdul Majid Paluan. The counsel alleged that the IO recorded this witnesses statement falsified the date when the statement was actually recorded by backdating it. The Defense alleged that prosecution witnesses 7 and 8 were actually only produced later, when the IO found that prosecution witness 1 could not give enough evidence against the accused in support of the charge.

The judges commented that there had been some inconsistencies in the testimony of witness 7, in that he first alleged that he saw the accused participate in the shooting whereas he later said that he heard from others that the accused had been involved.

The tribunal then adjourned for the day. They noted that they had allocated the entire day for the defense counsel’s arguments and asked him to sum up before lunch break tomorrow.

Courtroom Dynamics
The Defense counsel was at times slow and repetitive in his submissions. The judges noted their dissatisfaction with the pace of the arguments and asked the defense to be more expeditious. At some points, a strain between the judges and the counsel was apparent.