Today the Tribunal heard matters in the following cases:
- Contempt Proceedings: Jamaat Dhaka City Unit
- Chief Prosecutor vs. Muhammad Kamaruzzaman: Limitation of Defense Witnesses, Cross-examination of Prosecution witness 18 (Accused Present)
Today counsel for Jamaat’s Assistant Secretary General of the Dhaka city unit and a Central Executive member of the party appeared and requested ten weeks additional time to allow the accused to appear in court to respond to the contempt charges against them. The judges stated that ten weeks adjournment is unacceptable and they saw no reason why the defendants could not present themselves before the court in compliance with the order. The court then fixed 26 February 2013 as the next date for the matter and stated that the two implicated leaders, Selim Uddin and Hamidur Rahman Azad, must personally appear in the court on that day. The Tribunal initiated contempt proceedings against the two Jamaat leaders by suo-moto order because of comments allegedly made during public engagement on 4th February, a day prior to Mollah’s judgment. Selim Uddin allegedly commented in public that the tribunal should not exist anymore, while Azad allegedly threatened the start of a civil war if the Tribunal delivered an unfavorable verdict.
The court then moved to the Kamaruzzaman case and passed its order pertaining to the Prosecution’s application under Rule 46A of the Rules of Procedure, read with Section 11(3) of the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act 1973, seeking to limit the number of defense witnesses to avoid unnecessary delay in the proceeding. The Tribunal granted the Prosecution’s request and limited the Defense to four witnesses. They stated that only four witnesses would be necessary to support the Defense’s plea of alibi. The Chairman of Tribunal-2 said the defense bears no other burden to prove or disprove the case. The Tribunal asked the defense counsel to provide the prosecution with the names of such witnesses in the earliest opportunity.
The Tribunal then continued hearing the Defense’s cross-examination of Prosecution witness 18, the Investigating Officer Abdul Razzaq.
Chief Prosecutor vs. Kamaruzzaman
Cross-Examination of Prosecution Witness 18
The Investigating Officer stated that he spoke to and recorded the statements of local widows of Bidhoba Polli on 30 October 2010, including Mosammad Nur-a-man, Asia, Esaton, Hasna Ara, Ojufa, Lakjan, Fuljan, Bhilot Moni, Fateman Khatun, Hajera Begum, Hazera, Zohura, Jamela, Amena Promukh. The place is called Bidhoba Polli ever since the Pakistani Army and Razakars killed many men on 25 July 1971, leaving behind many widows.
The Defense suggested that the Tribunal did not give the Investigating Officer and the Prosecution permission to take the statements of additional witnesses and that the Investigating Officer obtained statements of 7 witnesses after hearing to the names of widows during the testimony of Prosecution witness 10, Jalal Uddin. The Investigating Officer denied being in the court during Jalal Uddin’s testimony. The statement Syed Abdul Hannan, an additional witness, was recorded on 7 June 2012 and subsequently, statements of Kornofuli Beowa, Jobeda Beowa, Asiron Beowa, Hafiza Beowa, Zoriton Beowa and Hasen Banu were recorded on 28 September 2012 in Modhutial Echo Park which is 20 Kilometers away from Shohagpur Bidhoba Polli. The Application to submit additional witnesses was later filed on 2 October 2012.
The witness was asked whether he spoke to any of Kamaruzzaman’s college peers, teachers or members of the college staff from 1970-1971 to find about his political role and engagements at that time. He stated he had not. The witness stated that his investigation revealed that the date of birth of the accused is 4 July 1952. The SSC Exam was scheduled to be held in July/August of 1971, but was later cancelled. It was repeated in March of 1972. The Defense asked whether the investigation revealed that Kamaruzzaman did not sit for exam after being asked not to by the freedom fighters. The Investigating Officer replied that he did not look into this matter.
The witness testified that the Jamalpur Al-Badr started its operation under the leadership of Ashraf Hossain on 22 April 1971 and that training was started in Sherpur, Mymensingh on 16 May 1971. He stated that Al-Badr members used to wear Kurta and Pajama but later started wearing Fouzi dress. It was then suggested by the Defense that Mr Kamran was Al-Badr’s first commander and the organization had no post of “Chief Organiser” in its organizational structure. They claimed that Al-Badr was formed under the leadership of Momenshahi District Islami Chatra Shongho Chiarman Muhammad Ashraf.
The Defense raised doubts as to the authenticity of Kamaruzzaman’s academic certificate for the Masters of Arts issued by the Dhaka University, a photocopy of which has been submitted by the Prosecution in support of the Investigating Officer’s finding that Kamaruzzaman took admission in DU in 1975 in the Public Relations and Journalism Faculty. The certificate’s bottom left read the year 1987 but the spelled “Dhaka” for Dhaka University. The judge stated that a certificate from 1987 would read “Dacca” as the spelling was then. The Tribunal requested that the Defense submit the original document by the end of the day. The judge expressed surprise that the Defense would attempt to challenge an official Dhaka University document based on a suspicious photocopy. The Defense later submitted the original before the court and clarified that the date “28 June 1978” engraved in the bottom left of the certificate is the syndicate approval date of the result, whereas the certificate has been issued in the year 1992. Stating that delayed collection of original certificates is a common phenomenon in Bangladesh, the counsel told the court that he clarified the matter with Dhaka University administration.
The Investigating Officer said that he did not read “Ekatturer Juddhaporadhider Bichar” by Jahangir Alam or “Mymensingh Ekattur” by A.N.M Muhammad. He also denied the suggestion that he had in fact read “Juddhaporadh, Gonohotta O Bicharer Onneshoney” by Dr M.A. Hasan and “Ekattorer Bijoy Gatha” by Muntasir Mamun, but is denying it because the name of the accused does not appear in these books. The Investigating Officer stated that he knows that Muntasir Mamun is in favour of the trial of war criminals but does not know whether Dr M.A. Hasan supports it or is against it.
The Defense suggested that journalist Mamun-ur-Rashid, the author of “Shohagpurer Bidhoba Konnara 1971” also interviewed the widows interviewed by Investigating Officer, but that they did not mention Kamaruzzaman’s name.
Finally, the Defense asked the Investigation Officer about the testimony of Prosecution witnesses 1 and 2, outlining the various contradictions between their testimony before the Tribunal and their statements as given to him. The judges commented that the court will at its own instance look into the contradictions, but also said that minor contradiction is unlikely to have any impact on the overall outcome of the proceeding.
Cross-examination is scheduled to continue the first half of Sunday’s session, February 24th.