14 Feb 2013: ICT-1 Daily Summary – Gholam Azam Limitation of Defense Witnesses, Chowdhury Direct and Cross-Examination of PW 20

Today the Tribunal heard matters in the following cases:

  1. Chief Prosecutor vs Gholam Azam: Request for Time to Produce Defense Witnesses (Accused Not Present)
  2. Chief Prosecutor vs Salauddin Quader Chowdhury: Direct and Cross-Examination of PW 20 (Accused Present)

On February 14 Tajul Islam, Defense counsel for Gholam Azam requested that the Tribunal to allow them one week time so that they can place a list of new witnesses before the Tribunal. He submitted that due to the Shahbagh Movement (a ongoing protest calling for the death penalty against all those on trial and for the banning of Jamaat) the defense witnesses are afraid to give testimony before the Tribunal. Tajul Islam submitted that on February 11, 2013 Defenze Witness No 1 concluded placing his testimony and today is only February 14. He requested that the Defense be given at least until next Sunday (February 17) to produce witnesses. He said if his application were denied the Defense would be highly prejudiced. Tribunal rejected the prayer and fixed February 17 for closing arguments of the Prosecution.

In the Salauddin Quader Chowdhury case Sheikh Morshed Anwar (PW-20) concluded giving his examination-in-chief and Ahsanul Huq Hena began cross-examining him for the Defense. The proceedings were then adjourned until February 17, 2013.

Chief Prosecutor vs. Salauddin Quader Chowdhury

Prosecution witness 20, Sheikh Morshed Anwar provided testimony before the Tribunal. Anwar is the son of victim Sheikh Mozaffar Ahmed and brother of victim Sheikh Alamgir. He identified himself before the Tribunal as being 62 years old and employed as a businessman.

The Prosecution Examination in Chief
Sheikh Morshed Anwar stated that on March 25, 1971 his father Sheikh Mozzafor gave a speech in Laldighi. That night one of his shop employees was injured by a bullet from indiscriminate firing of Pakistani army as they made their way to Chittagong through Agrabad. He stated that until April 1, 1971 he was in Rahmatganj. On April 1, 1971 his father Sheikh Mozaffar Ahmed, his brother Sheikh Alamgir, Alamgir’s wife Umme Habiba Sultana and others took shelter in Raozan and he himself and another brother Khurshid took shelter at their farm villa. His cousin and uncle Ali shortly after informed him that the Pakistani Army had abducted his father and brother while they were returning from Raozan in front of Hathazari intersection. He said that he heard from his cousin and uncle that  Alamgir’s wife Umme Habiba Sultana and aunt Momtaz Begum were also in the car with his father and brother. He testified that he had heard that after checking the vehicle the Pakistani army was going to let them go but suddenly Salauddin Quader Chowdhury along with his associates arrived and took Anwar’s father and brother out of the car and took them to the nearby army camp. Momtaz Begum asked Salauddin Quader Chowdhury where they were being taken.  In reply he allegedly answered that the father and brother would be asked some questions and then would be freed.

Anwar testified that he was told that after Fazlul Huq, the brother of Umme Habiba (Alamgir’s wife), went to the army camp to look for the father and brother. There he found out that Alamgir and Mozaffar had been arrested. Anwar said that he heard that Fazlul Huq saw that Alamgir and Mozaffar’s hands were tied behind them. Anwar said that he returned to the family home in Rahmatganj and went back to his work in a bakery show-room in Still Mill. He said that he told a retired Panjabi Major about the incident and that the major went and  searched inside the camp for his brother and father. The major informed Anwar  that his father and brother were not found there. Anwar further said that Salauddin Quader Chowdhury’s father, Fozlul Quader Chowdhury, was a relative of Alamgir’s mother-in-law and that she went to ‘Goods Hill’ to find out what had happened to Alamgir and Mozaffar. Later on Fozlul Quader Chowdhury told her that they searched for Mozaffar and Alamgir and did not receive any information about them and they might have been killed. Anwar alleged that the Pakistani Army would not have been able to kill his father and brother if Salauddin Quader Chowdhury had not pointed to them.

Thereafter The Prosecution had Anwar exhibit six newspapers: the Daily Azadee dated 17 April 1996, the daily Chotrolla from 1 May 1998, the daily Azadee dated 17 April 1999, the daily Azadee dated 26 March 1998, the daily Prothom Alo dated 21 March 2002 and a photograph before the Tribunal. Anwar said that the Investigating Officer made the seizure list in front of him and that he signed the seizure list. He identified Salauddin Quader Chowdhury in the dock.

Defense Cross-Examination of PW 20
The Defense then conducted the cross-examination of the witness. Anwar admitted that he did not tell Zakirul Huq (an Awami League activist) or other neighbors about the killing of his father and brother but said that they might have known about the incident. He denied that he told the Investigating Officer that on April 1, 1971 he, his brother, father and sister-in-law went to his sister-in-law’s house. He said he doesn’t know the number of the car or how many days the car was left there. He admitted that Ismail was known as 420 (wrong doer) and denied that Alamgir used Ismail’s car to drive his family members to the sister in law’s house. He denied that his family did not have a car in 1971, but admitted that he never saw the blue book of this car.

Anwar said that he had a National ID card but that he doesn’t remember what date of birth is written on it. He said that in 1971, except Alamgir, all of his brothers were in the farm villa located in Koi Gram. He said that he did not read the documents which he exhibited today. He admitted that he married his brother Alamgir’s wife Umme Habiba (PW-17). Anwar denied that he, his brother Alamgir and his sister-in-law lived in a house located in Agrabad and denied telling this to the Investigating Officer.

Anwar said he doesn’t know the name and or address of the shop employee who was injured on the night of March 25. He admitted that his statements regarding the death of his father and brother were based on hearsay. He stated that he had not read the writing of his elder brother Jahangir regarding the death of his brother and father. Anwar said that he did not read ‘Amar Ekattor’ a book written by Dr Anisuzzaman, or ‘Bangali Jatiotabadi Shongram Muktijuddhe Chittagong’ a book written by Dr Mahfuzur Rahman, or ‘Pramanno Dalil Muktijuddhe Chittagong’ a book written by Gazi Saleh Uddin. He denied that OC of Kotoali Thana (Police Station) arrested his brother Khurshed Anwar for stealing the car of Ismail. He denied that on April 13, 1971, at the check point at the gate of Noyapara, the Pakistani Army arrested freedom fighter Abdur Rob, Saifuddin Khaled Chowdhury, Dilip Kanti Chowdhury, Anwar’s father Sheikh Mozaffor Ahmed and Eunus. He further denied that according to their confession the victims had gone to Rawzan to seize arms, and that the Pakistani army killed all of them. He said he did not know whether any mass grave was found there recently.

He admitted that he did not tell the Investigating Officer about his marriage to Umme Habiba (Alamgir’s wife). He said that he gave his statement to the Investigating Officer on October 12, 2010 in the Circuit House. He said that during the Liberation War, Shiblee, son of Alamgir, was 2 or 3 years old. He denied that Shiblee, who is now working in HSBC bank, told him not to give false statements. Anwar further said that he provided the same description of events to the Investigating Officer as in his testimony and during cross-examination. He said that during the Liberation War his cousin was 20 years old. He admitted that during the Liberation War Pakistan army used the Agrabad road and very few civilian used this road. He further admitted that Pakistan Army generally used to check people of this age range. Thereafter Tribunal adjourned the proceedings till February 17, 2013.

Ahsanul Huq Hena informed the Tribunal that he would not continue the cross-examination on Sunday, as Salauddin Quader Chowdhury himself would finish the cross-examination.

Then the Prosecution raised an objection stating that the Defense should not receive protection under Sections 12 and 17 of the ICT Act 1973. Section 12 provides that where an accused is not represented by counsel, the Tribunal may appoint counsel at the expense of the Government to defend the accused. Section 17 provides the rights of an accused person, and includes the right to give an explanation relevant to the charges against him, the right to conduct his own defense or have counsel, and the right to present evidence in support of his defense. Currently, the Tribunal has assigned state defense counsel to Chowdhury after he requested permission to dismiss his counsel during the end of the Parliamentary Session. However,  Huq Hena, who was previously appointed by Salauddin Quader Chowdhury, continues to represent Chowdhury and has been working with the state appointed counsel.