Today the Tribunal heard matters in the following cases:
- Chief Prosecutor vs. Ali Ahsan Muhammad Mujahid: Examination of Prosecution Witness 13 (Accused Present)
- Chief Prosecutor vs. Muhammad Kamaruzzaman Prosecution Application and Cross-Examination of Prosecution Witness 18 (Accused Present)
The day’s proceedings began with the examination-in-chief of Prosecution witness 13 in the Mujahid case. 57 year old Shakti Shaha is the son of victim Upendra Narayan Shaha. In his testimony he emotionally described the killing of his father and many others from the Hindu community.
In the Kamaruzzaman case the Tribunal heard an application under Rule 46A of the Rules of Procedure, read with Section 11(3) of the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act 1973, filed by the prosecution requesting that the number of witnesses allowed to the Defense be limited so as to avoid unnecessary delay in the proceedings. The Tribunal stated it would provide its answer on February 20th. The Tribunal then returned to the cross-examination of the Investigation Officer (Prosecution witness ). He was mainly questioned about the various prosecution documents exhibited in the case. The Defense sought to undermine the reliability of the documents and highlighted the various inconsistencies between witness statements given to the Investigation Officer and subsequent statements given by the witnesses in court.
Chief Prosecutor vs. Mujahid
Examination in Chief of Prosecution Witness 13
The Prosecution conducted their examination-in-chief of Shakti Shaha who testified about witnessing the killing of his father and others in the Hindu community. His testimony supported allegations under Charge 7. In particular he testified to the involvement of the accused in the local Peace Committee, his participation alongside other Biharis in the burning of dwelling houses belonging to the Hindu community, the killing of Upendra Narayan Shaha, Nupen Shikder, Biren Shaha, Nonita Ghosh and the rape and murder of Jhorna in the presence of the accused. The evidence also corroborated that given by Prosecution witness 12, Chitra Ranjan Shaha, who gave his testimony on 15 January 2013.
Shaha testified that the Pakistan Army entered Faridpur on 21 April 1971 and established military camps in various locations therein including Faridpur Circuit House and the district stadium. The witness stated that his family was afraid and took shelter in his sister’s house in Bakchor the same day. A few days later he said his sister’s house was looted and burned and they were forced to take shelter elsewhere.
He then testified that in the Bengali month of Boishakh at around 10 or 11 a.m., the accused Mujahid, Alauddin Kha and few others were seen in an open jeep heading towards the Board Office situated near the local market to attend a Peace Committee meeting. They left the meeting place around 2pm. Shaha said he came back to his sister’s house and climbed a fruit tree to pick fruits for food. He was in the tree when he saw Mujahid carrying a revolver and other Biharis carrying rifles headed towards the house. He testified he saw them tie up his father Upendra Narayan Saha and approximately 10 others. His mother offered money and all her gold jewelry in exchange for the release of her husband. They refused her pleas and took the detained to the Shree Angan. There Mujahid gave the signal to shoot and the Biharis opened fire. The witness saw from the tree that those lined up collapsed immediately after the firings.
The witness was very emotional and at this point began to cry loudly. The courtroom became silent. The Judge asked the Prosecution to calm the witness.
The witness testified that after half an hour he came down from the tree and saw his father lying dead. He said that one of the attacking party, Ohab Bihari, also hit his mother with rifle. A girl from Goalindo, named Jhorna was raped and shot to death. Another girl named Nonita Ghosh was also killed.
The witness confirmed that he gave his statement to the Investigation Officer during investigation. He stated that he has known Mujahid since childhood and that his brother Kiron Lal Shaha studied with Mujahid’s younger brother. The witness then identified Mujahid in the dock.
Defense Cross Examination
The Defense counsel began their cross-examination. They asked whether the witness remembered his date of birth and whether he had National voter ID card. The witness replied that although he gave the details of his date of birth at the time of the information collecting stage and preparation of the National Voter ID card, he was unable to remember the date at the time of questioning.
The cross-examination is scheduled to continue on the 26th.
Chief Prosecutor vs. Muhammad Kamaruzzaman
Prosecution Application for Limitation of Defense Witnesses
The Tribunal heard a Prosecution application under Rule 46A of the Rules of Procedure, read with Section 11(3) of the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act 1973 requesting the Court to exercise its power to limit the number of Defense witnesses for an expeditious trial. The prosecution counsel argued that the Defense has submitted a long list of witnesses for the purpose of delaying the judicial process. They stated that the court’s intervention is required to expeditiously reach the ends of justice.
In reply, the Defense pointed out that although the court has the power to limit the number of witnesses, the prosecution has no power to file this application advocating that the same be done. He further submitted that the numbers of prosecution witnesses and Defense witnesses should be proportionate in order for the process to be balanced. The court fixed February 20th for passing an order on this application.
Cross-Examination of Prosecution Witness 18
The Defense continued its cross-examination of Prosecution witness 18, the Investigation Officer Abdul Razzaq. He denied that he did not disclose where he obtained the documents in Exhibit-16 and that they haven’t been signed by the persons who presented them. He also denied the suggestion that the Prosecution did not take the statement of Mina Farah, author of “Juddhey Juddhey Jibon” (Exhibit-17), because she would not lie present false charges against the accused. The Defense noted that on pg 220 of her book, it is stated that word spread through radio transmission that her house was being used as the Al-Badr Head Quarters. The Defense alleged that the correctness of this statement has not been investigated by the Investigating Officer. The Defense also suggested that the book is unreliable because it was published 39 years after the war and is based on iperfect memories from the 1971 period. The Investigating Officer responded that he does not know the when the book was written but is aware of the fact that the author has been residing in the United States for a long time. He denied that the contents of the book were written upon the malicious direction of some people and that it is baseless. He also denied similar suggestions about the statements contained in Exhibit 8 and 15.
The witness was then asked about the contents of the book “Juddhey’r Araley Juddho” (Exhibit-19), by Professor Abu Sayeed, and the whereabouts of the author. The Defense noted that the author was a Minister during the last Awami regime and often participates in various television talk shows, yet has not been called as a Prosecution witness. They further highlighted that on page 162 the name of the accused is named as the Al-Badr Chief Organiser, but the area under his leadership is not specified. The book also states that Ashraf Hossain was the organiser in Mymensingh. The Defense alleged that the Investigating Officer did not investigate where the author collected the information contained in his book.
The Defense then addressed documentary evidence contained in Volume-2 of the Investigation Report. Specifically they noted that pages 433, 558, 584, 632, 657, 662, 673, 674, 684 and 771 contain the names of many people including the name of Mr Kamran but does not contain the name of the accused Kamaruzzaman. Additionally the Defense noted that pages 1144-1159 of Volume-3, as well as sections of Volumes 4-7, contain details of many atrocities but do not implicate the accused. The Defense also stated that the alleged copy of Kamaruzzaman’s Al-Badr ID Card, enclosed in the 6th Volume, does not also contain his signature. The accused’s name is also not mentioned on page 2710 of the 8th Volume which contains a newspaper report on Jamalpur Al-Badr and Al-Badr’s activities.
The Defense noted that two cases were filed against the accused outside of the ICT: Case No. 60 of 25 January 2008 in Pallabi Police Station and Case No. 34 of 31 December 2007 in Keraniganj Police Station. The Defense asked why the Investigating Officer did not meet the informants and witnesses from those cases and why he made no inquery into the contents of the First Information Report (FIR) from those cases. The witness replied that he had not done so because he was not in charge of investigation of those cases. (The Defense was prevented from seeing the Case Diary in the hands of the Investigation Officer. However, the same was given to the judges for inspection).
The IO denied the suggestions put forward by the Defense counsel that Kamaruzzaman was never the Chairman of Mymensingh Islami Chatra Shangha and stated that the involvement was not found in his investigation but came to his knowledge via a fax dated 20 January 2012 from the Police Super of Special Branch of Jamalpur district. He disagreed with the suggestion that the information of this fax was not dependable.
The witness said that his investigation revealed that the accused was the Al-Badr commander of Sherpur and that he finished his Secondary School Certificate in the year 1967 from JKM Institution. The witness acknowledged he did not know in which year the accused complete Class-10. Questions posed by the Defense showed that the Investigatin Officer did not visit the school of the accused and did not talk to any of his fellow students, teachers or members of staff. The Defense counsel then suggested that the witness’ findings about the accused becoming associated with Islami Chatra Shongho was baseless.
Finally, The Defense suggested that shahid (martyr) Bodiuzzaman was in reality not a freedom fighter. The argued that Bdouzzaman trained liberation fighters and but died for a different reason (the same had been suggested to PW-6). The Investigating officer denied this but admitted that he did not talk to anyone who trained under Bodiuzzaman.
The cross-examination of the witness is scheduled to continue next week.