Today the Tribunal heard matters in the following cases:
- Chief Prosecutor vs Salauddin Quader Chowdhury: Prosecution witness 18 direct testimony (Accused Present)
- Chief Prosecutor vs Professor Gholam Azam: Prosecution’s cross-examination of defense witness 1 (Accused not Present)
In the Salauddin Qader Chowdhury case, prosecution witness 18, Debabrata Sarkar, began and concluded his testimony before the Tribunal. Thereafter, the state appointed Defence Counsel sought adjournment and Tribunal adjourned the case until February 6. Salauddin Quader Chowdhury also requested that the Tribunal consider an application, to be filed by a family member, for his release on parole to attend the Janaga for his uncle.
After the lunch break, Prosecutor Haider Ali cross-examined defense witness 1, Abdullahil Aman Azmi , in the Gholam Azam case. The Tribunal then adjourned the proceedings until tomorrow, February 05.
Chief Prosecutor vs. Salauddin Qader Chowdhury
The prosecution called its 18th witness, Debabrata Sarkar, to the stand. In his testimony before the Tribunal Debabrata said that in 1971 he was the student of class 4. Debabrata and his family left Chittagong to their village home during the Liberation War. On April 4 or 5 Debabrata’s father Orbindo, his uncle Aurun Bikash Chowdhury, Jogesh De, Shanti Kusum Chowdhury and Poritosh Dash returned to Khatungonj of Chittagong to bring back Motilal Chowdhury (Debabrata’s uncle) to their village home. Debabrata said no one returned to the village until the next day at noon when Motilal Chowdhury’s cook Sunil arrived there splattered with blood. Debabrata said he heard from Sunil on that night (most probably Saturday) one of his uncle’s neighbors, Abdus Sobhan, came to Motilal Chowdhury’s drawing room at night and asked Debabrata’s father and the others why they were all sitting there. After 15 to 20 minutes members of the Pakistani Army arrived at the house and took 7 persons including Debabrata’s father and Sunil to Chowdhury Hill. After that the Pakistani Army released Sunil. Sunil came back to Khatunganj, Chittagong where Abdus Sobhan wounded him, saying that he should not be allowed to get away since he would be a witness to the incident, however, Abdus Sobhan’s mother saved him from Sobhan and sent him back to Debabrata’s village home.
Debabrata testified that the next day Farid Ahmed and others suggested that they leave home and look for safe place to hide. That night he said two persons came from Gonimiahr Hat and warned them that Salauddin Qader Chowdhury had ordered that action be taken against the Debabrata so that no male person in the family would remain. Debabrata said in the meantime all the male family members had gone into hiding, taking shelter in Bhuddist temples and homes. Debabrata said that they were also warned that a plan had been made to convert family members to Islam and to marry the female members of the family. Debabrata said that after hearing these warnings the rest of the family members also went into hiding. Debarata alleged that the next morning their house had been looted and set on fire. He claimed that he himself and his family went to India through Dewanpur, Gujra, Binajuri and Fotikjuri and on the way heard of the killing of Notun Chandra Singh.
Debabrata testified that after the Liberation War he and his family returned to Chittagong and found both their house there and in their village home gone. He claimed that they searched for his father and uncle and heard from some people that they were sent to Pakistan, while others said that they were killed after being tortured. He also claimed that he heard that some of those who fell into the hands of Fazlul Qader Chowdhury were allowed to live, but those who fell into the hands of Salauddin Qader Chowdhury did not survive. Debabrata identified Salauddin Qader Chowdhury in the dock.
Thereafter Salauddin’s state appointed Defense Counsel said she was not yet prepared to conduct the cross examination since she did not receive a copy of the witness statement. She therefore sought adjournment which was granted by the Tribunal, adjourning until February 6.
Issues of Access to the Tribunal
Salauddin Quader Chowdhury alleged before the Tribunal that his sons and one of his sisters were not being given permission to come inside the Tribunal and his wife was forced to leave her car outside of the Tribunal gate and only allowed to come to the Tribunal by walking from the Tribunal gate.
Chief Prosecutor vs. Gholam Azam
Today the Prosecution conducted the cross-examination of defense witness 1, Abdullahil Aman Azmi, the son of Gholam Azam and former army personnel.
During cross examination Azmi admitted that General Mostafizur Rahman was Army Chief. He said that Mostafizur Rahman was recalled from his retirement and given promotion to make him Army Chief. He stated that at that time the post of Army Chief was a three star position. As far as he remembered, he stated that in 2007 or 2008 the post of Army Chief received four star status. He said before that General Osmani, who had retired as a Colonel, was given an honorary promotion to Four Star General due to his contribution in the Liberation War in 1971.
The Prosecution asked him what the official term was within the army, “in aid to civil power” or “in aid to civil authority.” Azmi responded that the official term was “in aid to civil power.” Prosecutor Haider Ali asked him whether there was any difference between the Military law in 1969 and 1958, in answer he said he does not know. Azmi admitted that after March 25, 1971 most of the Bengali officers stood in support of Liberation War and directly participated in the war as members of the Bangladesh Army. He said that those civilians who actively participated in the Liberation War and were deemed competent were given commission and appointed as officers of the Bangladeshi Army. Soldiers were similarly appointed. He said that he did not know whether the formal procedure of formation of the Bangladesh Army, British Army and Pakistan Army were in similar in nature or not. He said that the Bangladesh Army was the continuation of the Pakistani Army and British-India Army.
Azmi testified that during the Liberation War he was 12-years-old. He said that his elder brothers left for United Kingdom in 1972 and he himself and his younger brother left Bangladesh for United Kingdom in 1975 and his mother with two of his younger brothers left Bangladesh for United Kingdom in 1976. He said he received his education from 1972 to 1974 in Sylhet Pailot High School and completed his O-Levels in United Kingdom. He stated that he studied for his A-Levels in United Kingdom but could not appear for A-Levels exam since his family decided to come back to Bangladesh. In 1979 he sat for the HSC exam at Dhanmondi Ideal College. He said that his father did not participate in political activities from his house in 1991. He admitted that on April 14, 1998 his mother, father (Gholam Azam) and his aunt went to his house to see his sick wife in Chittagong Cantonment. He denied that his father had any bodyguard and said that for the security reason he was accompanied with some persons. He further said that on April 14 these persons left his house after his father remained.
While Haider Ali was asking questions regarding the incident of April 14, the Tribunal raised questions about the relevancy of the line of questioning.
Thereafter Tribunal adjourned the proceedings till February 5.