26 Feb 2013: ICT 1 Daily Summary – Gholam Azam Prosecution Closing Arguments

Today the Tribunal heard matters in the following cases:

  1. Chief Prosecutor vs. Gholam Azam: Disposition on Defense Applications, Prosecution Closing Arguments

Defense Applications
On 17 February 2013 Tajul Islam, Defense Counsel of Gholam Azam filed three applications. One application was for permission to either call General Sir Jack Deverell and Professor William Schabas as expert witnesses, depose these witnesses via video link, or to submit their expert reports into evidence pursuant to Rule 46A of the International Rules of Procedure 2010. Defense also filed another application for bail. On 20 February 2013 Tribunal heard these two applications along with another application filed by the Defense requesting permission inspect the record of orders. Today (26 February 2013) passed order regarding these three applications.

Regarding the application for two foreign witnesses Tribunal passed an order rejecting the application and stated that Tribunal already expressed its views at the time of recording of evidence. Tribunal further stated that the recording of evidence has already been completed and the case is now at the stage of Closing Arguments. The court did allow the Defense to submit the expert witness reports though it was unclear whether they would be accepted as exhibits or simply for reference by the Judges.

The Tribunal rejected the bail application, which was filed on medical grounds, stating that Gholam Azam has received adequate medical attention and that the nature of the charges against him and the stage of the trial do not allow for him to be set free on bail. The Tribunal further directed the authorities at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University to take all necessary steps to provide him proper treatment.

Regarding the inspection of record of orders Tribunal stated that a Defense Counsel will be allowed to inspect the record for an hour in front of two bench officers.

Closing Arguments
Thereafter, Tribunal heard the closing arguments of Prosecution side for 7th consecutive day. Prosecutor Sultan Mahmud Simon submitted arguments in support of Charge No 4 (complicity) incidents 13 through 23 counts. The Tribunal then adjourned the proceedings until February 27, 2013. 

Charge No 4:
Under Charge 4 Gholam Azam is accused of complicity under section 3(2)(h) of the ICT Act 1973. The Prosecution alleges that on 4 April1971, as a part of a 12 member team Gholam Azam met with Lt. General Tikka Khan, the Chief Martial Law Administrator of the ‘Kha’ zone of the occupied Bangladesh, at Governor House of Dhaka. The meeting took place just after the ‘Operation Searchlight’ on 25 March 1971, and Gholam Azam allegedly assured the General of their full cooperation. The Prosecution also alleges that by 9 April 1971 Gholam Azam held the third highest position in the extended Peace (Shanti) Committee.

The Prosecution claimed that the goal of the Peace Committee was to assist Pakistani Army in attacks on the general people of Bangladesh. As a leader of Jamaat-e-Islami, Gholam Azam gave several speeches where he praised the Pakistani Army and promised to give them full assistance and stated that the Pakistani Army had served the country at a moment of crisis. It was alleged that Gholam Azam justified the conduct of the Pakistani Army by saying there was no other way to save the country from separating without the intervention of the Pakistani Army.

The Prosecution submitted that on 26 August 1971, while in Peshawar, Gholam Azam praised the Pakistani Army for protecting the unity of Pakistan. The Prosecution stated that such statements indicate that Gholam Azam supported the criminal activity of Pakistan army. In support of his argument Prosecutor Simon referred to reports published in the Daily Shangram dated 28 August 1971 (Exhibit-14) and the Daily Azad dated 28 August 1971 (Exhibit-48).

Simon submitted that in a press conference Gholam Azam demanded a new election and demanded dissolution of National Council (Jatio Parishad). Simon submitted that Gholam Azam urged his followers to strengthen the hands of “patriots” and “peace-loving people”, meaning those who supported the unity of Pakistan. The Prosecution argued that Gholam Azam has referred to having about 500 to 700 volunteers and patriots but the Defense claimed such people were actually the members of Razakars, Al-Badr, and Al-shams. He further argued that that Gholam Azam supported their activities. In support of his argument he referred the Daily Pakistan dated 1 September 1971 (Exhibit-69) and the Daily Ittefaq dated 1 September 1971 (Exhibit-85).

The Prosecution submitted that at a press conference in Karachi on 31 August 1971 Gholam Azam expressed his gratitude towards the Pakistani Army for protecting the unity of Pakistan by repressing the ‘Bichinnotabadi’ (persons who were in favor of independence) and praised the activity of the Razakars (Exhibit-70, the Daily Pakistan dated 2 September 1971). Simon further argued that Gholam Azam’s speech indicates his association and connection with crime.

Simon that during a party meeting held in Dhaka on 3 September 1971, Gholam Azam told the attendees that they must eliminate the revolutionaries and anti-social elements (those who supported the independence) in order to bring back normalcy. Simon argued that the nature of decision taken indicates that he was complicit in crimes by aiding and abetting.

Simon submitted that in a statement issued from Dhaka on 10 September 1971 Gholam Azam told Pakistan to include send their most intelligent representatives as the Pakistan delegation to the upcoming General Assembly of the United Nations. Simon argued that Gholam Azam gave this advice hoping to justify the activities of Pakistani government. In support of his arguments Simon referred to a Fortnightly report, the reports published in the Daily Shangram dated 11 February 1971, and the Daily Purbo Desh dated 11 February 1971 (Exhibit-113).

Simon submitted that on 19 September 1971 Gholam Azam congratulated the newly appointed ministers of the Cabinet under the military regime of Pakistan. Simon further stated that Gholam Azam express his expectation that the newly appointed minister would perform much better than the Peace Committee. Simon stated that the local administration worked under the Peace Committee. By mentioning that two of the newly appointed ministers were from Jammat-e-Islami, Simon argued that Jamaat-e-Islami was part of the Pakistani government. Simon further argued that complicity by instigation, aiding and abetting is proved along with Gholam Azam’s intention and knowledge. In support of his argument he referred to Exhibit-72 the Daily Pakistan dated 21 September 1971 and Exhibit 20 the Daily Shangram dated 19 September 1971.

The Prosecution stated that during a program thrown in honor of a minister on 25 September 1971, Gholam Azam said that purpose of the two members of Jamaat-e-Islami who joined the cabinet was similar to the objective behind sending its members to join the Razakar forces and Peace Committee ‘Muktijudher Dalil Patro’ Vol-7, page-689; Exhibit-22, the Daily Shangram dated 26 September 1971. 

Simon submitted that in a public meeting before the Baitul Mokarram Mosque on 16 October 1971, Gholam Azam blamed ‘Choromponthi’ (the then banned Awami League) and stated that Jamaat-e-Islami was working  relentlessly through the Peace Committee to bring back normalcy. The Prosecution cited to Exhibit-25, the Daily Shangram dated 17 October 1971; Exhibit-492 as well as Fortnightly reports. The Prosecuiton also submitted that in that meeting Gholam Azam criticized the Sheikh Mojibur Rahman. Simon argued that Gholam Azam sent his party members to join the Razakar forces and the Peace Committee and even the then Cabinet, and that these actions proved his complicity and support towards Pakistani government.

Simon finished by stating that during a UCP (United Coalition Party) meeting on 28 November 1971, Gholam Azam urged President Yahiya to visit East Pakistan to provide more assistance. He further said that Razakars and members of the UCP worked with the government against the ‘Bichinnotabadi’ (who opposed the unity of Pakistan) and anti-government people since it was their duty to do so. The Prosecution cited Exhibit-31, the Daily Shangram dated 29 November1971. Simon compared this speech with a confession and said that this speech indicates Gholam Azam’s complicity.  Thereafter, Simon referred a number of newspaper reports and read out their headings to show the Tribunal the atrocities committed by the Pakistan army and its auxiliary forces.