Today the Tribunal heard matters in the following cases:
- Chief Prosecutor vs. Muhammad Kamaruzzaman: Two Defense Applications
- Chief Prosecutor vs. Abdul Alim: Defens Request for Additional Time
Today the Tribunal heard two Defense applications in the Kamaruzzaman case. The first was an application to recall the court’s order ending the cross-examination of Prosecution witness18, the Investigation Officer. The order was issued after Defense counsel Kafil Uddin Chowdhury failed to complete the cross-examination within the time stipulated by the court. On 20 February 2013 (Wednesday), the court instructed the Defense to finish the cross-examination before lunch break on Sunday, February 24th. The Defense was absent on Sunday however, due to the ongoing hartal (strike). The Tribunal nonetheless announced that the cross-examination was completed after the lunch recess on the 24th. The second application was a request to allow the Defense to submit additional documents into evidence.
In the Alim case the Tribunal granted a request from the Defense for additional time due to the inability of the senior Defense counsel to attend.
Chief Prosecutor vs. Kamaruzzaman:
Application for Recall of Order Concluding Cross-Examination of PW 18
Today senior Defense counsel Abdur Razzaq submitted that the Defense should be allowed to cross-examine the Investigation Officer in the interest of justice. He argued that the Defense had only been allowed to show the contradictions between two or three prosecution witnesses out of the fifteen who gave evidence against the accused. In the interest of justice the decision of the court to end the cross-examination should be recalled and the Defense should not be limited in examining the Investigation Officer whose role is the very core of this case. Razzaq stated that there have been many contradictions in the investigation findings in addition to numerous inconsistencies between statements of witnesses given to the Investigating Officer and testimony given before the court. The Defense said such consistencies are highly significant and the court the value of revealing such inconsistencies outweighs the inconvenience of extending the allotted time.
The court rejected the Defense’s arguments stating that there had been undue delay and the proceedings could not be extended any longer. The judges stated that the detailed nature of the Defense’s cross-examination is either an improper fashion of questioning or is intentionally aimed to delay the proceeding. The Tribunal concluded that the Defense has been given ample time to wrap up the cross-examination and that it has failed to effectively use the time and resources provided. Moreover, the Tribunal noted that counsel had been absent not only on hartal days, but also on normal days where news of unrest was spread. Additionally counsel chose not to appear even after the unrest in the streets improved, thereby wasting the Tribunal’s time. The application to recall the previous order was therefore summarily rejected.
Application for Permission to Submit Additional Defense Documents
The second Defense application presented under Rule 46A of the Rules of Procedure requesting permission for the Defense to submit additional documents into evidence. Rule 46A gives the Tribunal unlimited power to pass any order necessary to meet the ends of justice or prevent abuse of the judicial process. The judges initially said that there is only a provision in the Act to allow the prosecution to submit additional documents and that the bench cannot entertain the Defense’s application. The Defense then argued that similar applications were accepted by both by Tribunal-1 and Tribunal-2 in the past. The Chairman of the Tribunal 2 asked the Defense to produce similar applications and orders and that the Tribunal would consider them in making its decision.
Chief Prosecutor vs. Abdul Alim
Finally the court moved on to the case against Abdul Alim. The Defense sought a continuance as none of the senior counsel for the accused could appear before the tribunal due to personal difficulties. Mr Khalil has been hospitalised a day earlier while Mr Hena is in Chittagong for family reasons. The prosecution counsel Mr Rana Das Gupta strongly objected, arguing that the two lawyers have been regularly absent and accusing them of using their absence as a delay tactic. The judges allowed the request for additional time and fixed February 27th as the next date for the cross-examination.