23 January 2013: ICT 2 Daily Summary

The Tribunal heard the following cases:

  1. Contempt Proceedings against Suranjit Sen Gupta
  2. Chief Prosecutor vs.  Abdul Alim: Cross examination of Prosecution Witness (Accused Present)
  3. Chief Prosecutor vs. Muhammad Kamaruzzaman: Examination-in-Chief of Prosecution Witness  (Accused Present)

At the beginning of the day’s proceedings, Mr Rana Das Gupta, counsel for the prosecution brought to the court’s attention the comments made by MK Anwar, a member of BNP standing committee on January 20th, a day before the announcement of ICT-2’s first judgment. Mr Gupta submitted that the BNP veteran’s comment – that the ongoing trials of the war criminals have been staged by the government to serve its political purposes – will adversely affect the public perception as to the tribunal’s independence. The chair of the tribunal in response to the prosecution’s averment opined that such a statement is purely a political one and it is correct to say that the Government’s decision to form the International Crimes Tribunals was an executive decision and that is a part of the ruling party’s political manifesto. The Tribunal asked the prosecution to submit a written application precisely enumerating questionable statements made by Gupta.The court made it clear that it will only proceed with contempt proceedings if MK Anwar’s comment appears to be on a sub-judice matter. At this point, the court expressed its appreciation for Defense counsel Tajul Islam, for his comment to the media whereby he stated that the judgment in the case against Abul Kalam Azad Bacchu will not affect the decision of other pending cases.

Counsel for Mr Suranjit Sen Gupta requested adjournment of the hearing due to the unavailability of senior counsel. The court accepted the request and stated that it will fix and notify the next date for hearing.

The court then moved to Abdul Alim’s case wherein the prosecution witness PW-9, Mr Jahidul Islam was cross examined by the defense counsel, whose core line of questioning was aimed to undermine the credibility of the witness, suggesting that the testimony has been concocted at the Prosecution’s direction and that the witness could not have seen or heard of the participation of the accused. The case was then adjourned until 4 February 2013.

In the Kamaruzzaman case, Mr Md Azabuddin Miah, the Assistant Librarian of Bangla Academy testified as Prosecution Witness 16. He stated that Mr Abdur Razzak Khan, the Investigation Officer of the case collected a total of 257 paper extracts from daily and weekly papers published during the 1971 liberation war. Of these documents, only 6 extracted items have been exhibited for the tribunal’s perusal in support of the prosecution’s case against the accused. The tribunal disallowed the defense from referring to any other newspaper extracts from the bundle that has not been so exhibited.

Chief Prosecutor vs. Abdul Alim: Cross-examination of Prosecution Witness 9, Mr Jahidul Islam

The salient aspect aimed by this cross-examination was to challenge the reliability of the identification evidence and credibility of the witness, leading to an inference that the incident described to have taken place on 8th May is not true, 13 people were not detained, no one from the house of his hiding went to the so-called Dr Syed’s house. Neither did he go to Rahimuddin’s house, nor did he give information to anyone else.

The witness made the following statements:

The witness during his cross-examination by the defense counsel was asked about his date of birth in his secondary school certificate and whether it was the same as that in his National ID card—answered that he do not know.

He stated that he knows Rahimuddin, but does not know whether he is the son of Mofizuddin or the brother of Somiruddin.

It was suggested to him that Martyr Rabeya Begum, who according to the witness was part of their escape team, was not so but actually lived in India during the war and was later killed on 26 December on her way to Zafarpur by train.

The witness testified that he has not read the book “History of Jaipurhat” by Abdul Sattar Mridha and is not also aware that Abdul Alim was appointed as the Director of Jaipurhat Sugar Mills in 1974 and was elected as the first Chairman of Jaipurhat Pouroshova.

He stated that he fled to India through the Dhamurhat border through Badolgasi but that he did not know anyone amongst the 400/500 people who entered India at or about the same time.

He stated that he did not have any pass to go to India as none was required at the time. He claimed he went to West Dinajpur Teor camp, where MP Mozaffar of Bogura Shibgory was the Captain.

Defense counsel stated that he had not provided the date of the alleged incident to the Investigation Officer, and that his name is not on the list of freedom fighters. Furthermore the Defense questioned him whether it was in fact true that the Pakistani Army entered Jaipurhat after April. The witness denied these statements.

The Defense established that he was the youngest member of the group who started for India and that he did not have discuss or plann the journey prior to starting for India with the other members of the group.

The witness claimed that when the firing and bombing started upon reaching Bhadsha union; he got detached from others and went to a nearby house to hide, and that he could not see or follow where the others went.

The witness stated that he did not know Dr Syed Ali or his house. He claimed that one person from the house he was hiding in went to Dr Syed’s house upon hearing the chaos. That individual later described the confinement of his companions. Two other women were residing in the house where he took shelter. He claimed that none of those 3 residents of that house knew the 13 people detained in Dr Syed’s house. The house where he was hiding did not have any other house in close surrounding.

He stated that when he went to Akkelpur rail station, he went with 3 or 4 unknown persons. After hearing about the Koktara Pukurpar killing, he went to Rahim Uddin’s house to give the news. He stated that Rohim Uddin’s house is beside that of Somir Udddin. However he said that he did not give the news to any of Somir Uddin’s 3 sons and 1 daughter.

The witness claimed he does not know when the Pakistani Army established a camp in Akkelpur Rail Station and that he heard about it only after going to India.

The Defense claified that Akkelpur Rail Station is in North-South; with the road running along the West and the rail platform to the East. There were no shops inside the platform area. The Defense counsel suggested that the station had no waiting room, only has a store room; and that the witness could not have seen his companions being detained therein.

The witness stated that he did not go to Koktara pond and was not present there during the killing.

Chief Prosecutor vs. Kamaruzzaman: Direct examination of Prosecution witness 16 – Md Azabuddin Miah, Formal witness on documentary evidence, Assistant Librarian of Bangla Academy  (Newspaper Branch).

This testimony was a mere formal procedural matter; the witness gave testimony that it was him who in his official capacity provided the relevant documents to the Investigation Officer. He made the following statements:

The witness during his examination-in-chief by the defense counsel was asked about the archive in Bangla Academy and about the documents given by him to the Investigation Officer.

He stated that Daily newspapers, weekly and monthly newspapers and digests on current affairs from 1964 to date are preserved in the archive of the academy.

On 23 October 2011, the Mr Razzak Khan, the Investigation Officer of the instant case collected 255 paper cuttings as extracts from the then published Daily and weekly newspapers. Four of such paper extracts have been exhibited for the court’s perusal whereas Exhibit-1 contains a list of the seized/collected documents.

These extracts include that from the Daily Shongram dated 04 November 1971 containing news on General Niazi (Item No. 83 of the Seizure List; Exhibit-2), the Daily Azad dated 22 May 1971 containing a report stating that more peace committee has been formed in Dhaka, Mymensingh and  Tangail (Item No. 123; Exhibit-3),and  the Daily Azad dated 31 February 1971 stating that 15 more Mir Jafar (often metaphorically referred to as a synonym of a traitor) had been arrested (Item 227; Exhibit 5).

On 15 May 2011, the investigation officer further collected two more paper extracts including the Daily Shongram dated 16 August 1971 that refers to Kamaruzzaman being congratulated in the  “Azadi day speech in Momenshahi” (Item No. 56; Exhibit 6).