Today the Tribunal heard matters in the following cases:
- Chief Prosecutor vs. Abdul Alim: Cross-examination of Prosecution Witness (Accused Present)
- Chief Prosecutor vs. Muhammad Kamaruzzaman: Hearing of applications (Accused Present)
The court started the day’s proceedings with Mr Abdul Alim’s case wherein the prosecution witness PW-10, Mr Abu Sayeed Joarder was cross-examined by the Defense counsel Ahsanul Huq Hena. He previously testified in support of Charge-11 – murder as a crime against humanity in relation to allegedly directing an attack on the civilian population. The Defense counsel’s line of questioning aimed to undermine the reliability and credibility of the witness’s testimony.
The court then moved to the case against Muhammad Kamaruzzaman and heard two separate applications regarding access to documents. Thereafter the proceedings were adjourned due to the Defense counsel’s inability to reach the Tribunal because of ongoing violence in Dhaka.
Chief Prosecutor vs. Alim
The Defense began cross-examining prosecution witness PW-10, Mr Abu Sayeed Joarder. Examination-in-chief of PW-10 was conducted earlier on 11 February 2013. He testified against the elderly former BNP lawmaker Abdul Alim in support of Charge-11 which is for murder as a crime against humanity in conjunction with the attack and killing of civilians who had aided Hindus in leaving for India.
During cross-examination the witness stated that his elder brother was not detained while going to or coming from the Indian border. He further stated that those who claim they saw his brother being detained are not alive. When asked, he replied that he did not show the Investigation Officer the point of occurrence and is not sure whether the place is a crowded one or not.
During questioning the witness acknowledged that the six persons who went to find and release the alleged detainees were relatives of the detainees. The witness stated he did not know whether Bhikon Pramanik went to release any of his relatives and also was not aware what the name of Najer Akond’s father was or whether anyone with that name went to release any of his relatives. He also said that he did not know how many Peace Committee Offices were in Jaipurhat.
In response to Defense questions, Joarder stated that he did not know that the sons of Shahid Ahad Ali Sarkar and Shahid Mokhlesur Rahmanare alive. He also said he does not whether Gohir, the son of Bhikon Pramanik, is alive or whether Nurul Islam Shah, Tofazzel Shah, and Salam Shah are the sons of late Amza Hossain. He also gave the “don’t know” response to whether Aber Joaddari, Ahad Ali and Mokhles Joaddari were buried in the boddhobhumi (mass grave) on the west side of Akkelpur Mohila College.
The witness denied that Abdul Alim was not associated with Peace Committee and was actually in hiding. He testified that as soon as the garoals (bullock-cart pullers), who were going from Gopinathpur to the Indian border, reached Akkelpur Mohila College, the Pakistani Army opened fire on them. He stated that some fled, some were killed and others were detained. He testified that some of the relatives of those detained went to the accused Abdul Alim because people were saying that if Alim was given 500 Taka, the detained would be released. Instead the witness said they were also asked to stand in a line and killed.
Chief Prosecutor vs. Kamaruzzaman
In the Defense’s first application Mr Tajul Islam brought to the court’s attention that the dates on which the Investigation Officer collected statements during his investigation were not provided in the documents given to the Defense by the Prosecution. The court allowed the application and directed the prosecution to provide the dates as sought. The Prosecution stated that it was an inadvertent mistake and that it would provide the Defense with the dates.
The Defense’s second application was a request to be allowed to inspect the Investigation Report submitted to the Prosecution by the Investigation Officer. The same is a prosecution document that is not generally provided to the Defense and a separate permission from the Tribunal is required for the Defense to inspect it. The Tribunal also allowed this application, stating that the defense could inspect the document for one hour from 3pm to 4pm.
After the two applications were allowed, Mr Tajul Islam informed the court that Mr Kafil Uddin Chowdhury, Defense counsel responsible for the cross-examination, was unable to come to the court because of the ongoing violence in the Paltan area.
The court retired until 2pm, in the hopes that the counsel would arrive. At 2pm, Mr Tajul submitted that the counsel still could not appear because of the violence going on in the area of his residence. The judge adjourned until Thursday, stating that this excuse has only been accepted for the day and is not to be repeated. The Chair of tribunal-2 also commented that political chaos will continue but that it should not be used as a reason to stop or delay the ongoing justice process.