Today the Tribunal heard matters in the following cases:
1. Chief Prosecutor vs. Gholam Azam – Prosecution Closing Arguments (Accused Not Present)
Today the Prosecution continued presenting its closing arguments for the 3rd consecutive day. Today, Prosecutor Sultan Mahmud Simon focused his arguments on proof of Gholam Azam’s superior status and liability under the doctrine of command responsibility. The Prosecution additionally summarized their arguments in support of Charge No 1, addressing 6 specific instances of alleged conspiracy contained within that Charge. Thereafter, Tribunal adjourned until February 20, 2013.
Chief Prosecutor vs. Gholam Azam
Issues Regarding Presentation of Additional Documents by the Prosecution
At the beginning of the Tribunal proceedings Defense counsel Mizanul Islam filed an application objecting to the Prosecution’s submission of new documents on February 18, despite the fact that the trial is now in closing arguments. In reply the Prosecution stated that they had only produced documents that exist in exhibits already presented by the Prosecution and Defense. Mizanul Islam denied this claim and asked the court to make the Prosecution follow appropriate procedure in order to introduce any new documents. Prosecutor Zead-al-Malum submitted that the documents produced on February 18th can be found in ‘Bangladesher Muktijuddher Dalil Potro’ a book already exhibited by the Defense and Prosecution. He further submitted that these are government documents and stated that the Tribunal may take judicial notice of these documents under Section 19(3) and 19(4) of the ICT 1973. Therefore he claimed they are not subject to cross-examination.
Mizanul Islam questioned the basis for categorizing these as government documents. He stated that they are private documents and therefore the Tribunal cannot consider these documents under judicial notice. He further submitted that Defense should be given opportunity to discredit the private documents.
Thereafter, the Chairman said that Tribunal will not take into consideration any new documents which were not marked as exhibits and the Tribunal will only keep them on record.
Prosecution Witness 1
Prosecutor Sultan Mahmud Simon brought the Tribunal’s attention to the testimony of Muntasir Mamun, Prosecution witness 1. Mamun testified that in 1971 he regularly read the newspapers and listened to the BBC, Radio Australia, Akash Bani and Shadhin Bangla Betar Kendro in order to stay current on events. Therefore the Prosecution claimed he in a position to ascertain the veracity of the news. The Prosecution noted that PW 1 had stated that after March the political parties which supported the Central Government of Pakistan included Jamaat-e-Islami, the Muslim League, Pakistan Democratic Party and several other political parties. He noted that Jamaat-e-Islami and the Muslim League played a dominant role. Simon continued that Mamun said that in the first week of April Gholam Azam met with General Tikka Khan and on his recommendation and inspiration Peace Committee was formed. PW-1 further stated that Gholam Azam’s status was of a lot of importance and that Jammat was the biggest political party who assisted the Pakistani Army. He also testified that and the number of members of Jamaat in Peace Committees and other collaborating forces was much greater than compared to other political parties.
Simon concluded that Gholam Azam, as Chief of Jammat-e-Islami, is responsible for all of the crimes committed by his party members. Simon further submitted that PW 1’s testimony established that Gholam Azam gave speeches which had three main messages i) resisting and eliminating ‘miscreants’ (pro-liberation population and freedom fighters), ii) calling for co-operation of so called patriots and auxiliary forces of Pakistani army, and iii) calling for arms and ammunition to be provided to the so called patriots.
Simon submitted that during the cross-examination PW-1 admitted he doesn’t know whether Eahya and Bhutto met with the Gholam Azam before Operation Search Light. Simon highlighted that PW-1, in answer to a question about whether civilians exercised control over the Pakistani army, responded that they had influence. Simon also cited Mamun’s testimony claiming that without prior communication with General Tikka Khan, President Eahya Khan or other military officer, no meeting could have been held on April 4, 1971. PW 1 testified that under the leadership of Khaja Khairuddin, the Peace Committee was formed and Gholam Azam was among its 140 members. Simon submitted that PW-1 confirmed that Gholam Azam was present in the first Executive Committee meeting of Peace Committee, held on July 4, 1971. He further stated that Gholam Azam was one of 21 members of the Executive Committee. Simon argued that the testimony of PW-1 was supported by Exhibits-34 and 36.
Prosecution Witness 2
The Prosecution then addressed the testimony of Prosecution witness 2, Mahbub Uddin Ahmed. He testified that he found out from Pakistani Radio and newspapers that the Awami League was elected as the majority party in the December 1970 elections and that those who contested the elections included Jamaat-e-Islami, the Muslim League and the Pakistan Democratic Party (PDP). He stated that he knew the leaders of these political parties (including Gholam Azam and Khaja Khairuddin) met with General Tikka Khan in the first week of April and expressed support for Operation Search Light, which was carried out on March 25, 1971. Ahmed also testified that he had heard that Gholam Azam met with President Eahya to ask that the Razakars, Peace Committee and Al-Badr be provided with arms. Simon noted that Ahmed asserted that Gholam Azam was the leader of the commission of atrocities and that as a leader of the party he is liable for any commission of crimes against humanity committed by the party.
Prosecution Witness 3
Regarding PW-3 (Advocate Sultana Kamal) Simon submitted that in her testimony she said that in April certain religion based political parties cooperated with the Pakistani Army and stood against the liberation of Bangladesh. She testified that news of these incidents were splashed all over the papers and she came to know about the names of the persons involved in those incidents through the media. She testified that among them she heard most frequently the name of Gholam Azam. She testified that sometime around then the first Peace Committee and then the Razakar Committee was formed. She further said that the Razakar force was first formed on May in Khulna under the leadership of Gholam Azam. She said that these forces were formed by the student and youth members of Jamaat-e-Islami and Gholam Azam had been frequently referred as the supreme leader of all such activities. She further said in her testimony that General Tikka Khan used to praise Gholam Azam for his role in maintaining the unity and integrity of Pakistan. She stated that Gholam Azam became the symbol of the anti-liberation forces.
Sultana Kamal claimed that all those who actively supported and co-operated with the Pakistani Army were equally guilty. She alleged that Gholam Azam was the mastermind of such support and co-operation. She stated that she had that on August 23 and 31, 1971 Gholam Azam was present in Lahore and Hyderabad and supported the activities of the Pakistan Occupation Force. She further that the Peace Committee members sometimes engaged in armed operations alongside the Pakistani Army. On December 1, 1971 when Bangladesh was advancing towards victory of Liberation War, she claimed that Gholam Azam met with Eahya and that thereafter he stated that freedom fighters would be resisted and punished by the Razakars. Simon submitted that between December 10 to 14, 1971, Razakar, Al-Badr and Al-Shams begun to act in a desperate manner and started to engage in the killing of intellectuals.
The Prosecution noted that during cross-examination PW-3 maintained her position and stated that the killing of intellectuals was carried out with Gholam Azam’s approval and that he is responsible for such killings because he failed to take any disciplinary action against those involved in these acts. She further said that the news reports published in the Daily Purbo Desh and the Daily Azad dated April 5 and 7, 1971 contained statements showing that Gholam Azam invited people to join Peace Committees.
Simon described these three witnesses as ‘policy witnesses.’ He argued that the testimony of Defense witness 1 also supported the assertion that Gholam Azam held superior status and position as the witness admitted that Gholam Azam met with President Eahya and General Tikka Khan. Simon further submitted that Gholam Azam himself stated in his book that the Peace Committee was formed with unanimous voting. He further admitted that he met with King Faisal of Saudi Arabia. Simon further submitted that ‘Gibone Ja Deklam’ by Gholam Azam, ‘How he began work and became a top man’ by Muhammad Nuruzzaman, ‘Rao Farman Ali: Bangladesher Jonmo,’ by Rao Farman Ali also showed that Gholam Azam held superior status. Simon said that DW-1 had admitted that in ‘Gibone Ja Dekhlam’ Gholam Azam stated that on March 26, 1971 he left his home with his car and observed the atrocities committed on March 25, 1971. Simon argued that on March 26 there was a curfew, and that the fact that Gholam Azam felt safe to go out showed that he had leadership status. The Prosecution added that in addition to the testimony of Prosecution witnesses 1, 2, and 3, as well as Defense witness 1, 25 exhibits also prove that Gholam Azam formed the Peace Committee, went to visit the Razakar camp, gave a speech inciting violence against the liberation fighters, had control over Islami Chhatra Shangho, and supported the Pakistani occupying forces. The Prosecution concluded that the proof of his superior status shows he cannot escape liability for the conduct of his subordinates.
Charge No 1 (conspiracy)
The Prosecution then addressed Charge 1, conspiracy to commit crimes against humanity under section 3(2)(g) of the ICT Act of 1973. Prosecutor Simon submitted that on 4 April 1971 Gholam Azam, as part of a team of 12 persons, met with General Tikka Khan, the Chief Martial Law Administrator of the ‘Kha’ Zone of occupied Bangladesh, at the Governor’s House of Dhaka. On 6 April 1971, Gholam Azam and several others political leaders again allegedly met with Lt. General Tikka Khan and discussed various ways to assist the occupying Pakistani Army and the formation of auxiliary forces. On 14 April 1971 Gholam Azam allegedly took part in a meeting as a member of the Peace and Welfare Steering Committee where various policies and plans were agreed upon to organize people against the liberation supporters.
In continuation of the alleged conspiracy the Prosecution claimed that on 19 June 1971 Gholam Azam took part in a high-level meeting with the President of Pakistan, General Aga Mohammed Yahiya Khan, at Rawalpindi. He allegedly informed the President about the latest situation in East Pakistan. Together they evaluated the activities of the previous three months and decided on steps to take to facilitate the Pakistani position. On 20. June 1971 Gholam Azam allegedly met with the Pakistani Jammat-e-Islami Chief, Sayed Abul Ala Moududi, and discussed the party’s plans and activities and implementation of those plans.
The Prosecution asserted that on 1 December 1971 Gholam Azam took part in a long conspiratorial meeting with President Yahiya Khan and decided to murder the intelligentsia of Bangladesh. These murders were allegedly carried out by members of Jamaat-e-Islami, the Peace Committee, Razakars, Al-Badr and Al-Shams. As such the Prosecution claimed Gholam Azam conspired to commit crimes specified in section 3(2) of the ICT Act 1973.
In support of this charge the Prosecution submitted that reports of the Daily Azad dated 5 April 1971 (Exhibit-33), 6 April 1971 (Exhibit-34), and 7 April 1971 (Exhibit-35); reports of the Daily Pakistan dated 6 April 1971 (Exhibit-52), and 7 April 1971 (Exhibit-53); a report of the Daily Ittefaq dated 2 December 1971 (Exhibit-97); a report of the Daily Purbodesh dated 6 April 1971 (Exhibit-99), and 7 April 1971 (Exhibit-100) prove the 6 instances of conspiracy alleged under Charge No 1.