26 Feb 2013: ICT 2 Daily Summary – Contempt Proceedings, Mujahid Cross-Examination of PW 13

Today the Tribunal heard matters in the following cases:

  1. Contempt Proceedings Against M K Anwar, Jamaat Party Leaders (Accused Not Present)
  2. Chief Prosecutor vs. Muhammad Kamaruzzaman: Adjourned
  3. Chief Prosecutor vs. Ali Ahsan Muhammad Mujahid: Cross-examination of Prosecution witness 13 (Accused Present)

The counsel representing M K Anwar filed a written explanation, as requested by the Tribunal, on behalf of the veteran BNP policy maker and stated that his client has the highest regard for the court and that his statements were misplaced and misinterpreted by the newspaper report. MK Anwar had allegedly made comments that the government is staging the ongoing trials of the alleged war criminals as a mechanism of vengeance against the leaders of its opposition parties. Prosecutor Mr Rana Das Gupta sought time for further hearing of the matter, stating that the prosecution will place its submissions after evaluating the written explanation filed on behalf of the opposite party. The matter fixed for hearing on 28 February 2013.

Counsel for the Jamaat leaders Mr Selim Uddin,  Mr Hamidur Rahman Azad MP and Mr Rafiqul Islam sought adjournment of the matter for another week, stating that they could not appear by reason of unavoidable circumstances. The three leaders were ordered to personally appear before Tribunal-2 after contempt proceedings commenced against them following their comments about the tribunal during a public engagement on 4th February, a day prior to Mollah’s judgment. The prosecution strongly objected to their absence and stated an arrest warrant should be issued against each. The judges stated that the absent politicians must be personally present before the court on Sunday 3 March 2013 or face severe consequences.

Mr Kamaruzzaman’s case was adjourned until Sunday, 3 March 2013.

Finally, the cross-examination of Mr Shakti Shaha, PW-13 of the case against Mujahid was resumed by the Defenes and continued for the rest of the day.  The core line of questioning was aimed at attacking the reliability and credibility of the witness’s testimony, suggesting that the testimony is fabricated and is based on coaching by the Prosecution. It was suggested that the witness lives and works in India permanently. It is the Defense’s case that the witness never saw the accused and is a false witness who in reality is an Indian passport holder coming to Bangladesh illegally to give oral evidence. The Defense noted that he gave his previous statements to the Investigating Officer in India and claimed that this was because he is in fact an Indian resident. The Defense further suggested that the witness’ description of what he saw from the top of the tree (allegedly the participation of Mujahid and his associates in the killing of the witness’ father) is not only untrue and fabricated but also impossible and impracticable.

Chief Prosecutor vs. Mujahid: Cross-Examination of Prosecution Witness 13
The witness was asked whether he remembers his date of birth and the year in which he collected his National ID Card. He replied that he is unable to remember his date of birth or the year when he collected his national ID card and does not remember the approximate years either. However, contrary to the Defense’s claims, he stated that he has been a voter of Goalchomot-Western Para consistently since the election in 1970.

The witness testified that he went to Pouro-Obovoitik Pathshala and studied in Hoitoshi School. He does not remember the years in which he studied in those schools but remembered that the names of the Head Masters were Mr Joinal Abedin and Mr Nolini Babu respectively. He also stated that he studied in Class-7 after the War of Independence.  The Defense questioned how he could have been in Class 7 after the war and still have been old enough to witness the alleged crimes in the way he claims.

When asked, the witness admitted that he does not hold a Bangladesh passport, but he asserted that he holds a Voter ID Card as proof of his Bangladeshi nationality. He stated that his wife died in India and he was there in India for six months while she was being treated for cancer. He also stated that prior to that he was also in India for six months when he was subject to torture by Mujahid’s men after Mujahid became a Minister. However, he admitted that he did not file any complaint with the police or any law enforcement agency about the alleged incident after he came back to Bangladesh. He also admitted that he went to India at an early age with his family. Thus he claimed he visited India for a total of three times.

When asked about his occupation, the witness stated that he is now has a small T-Shirt business but that previously he used to work in Younus Shikdar’s Bedding Store in Faridpur Chokhbazar, Bangladesh. He admitted that the Investigation Officer did not go to his house in Faridpur. He stated that he was interviewed in his sister’s house in Chobbish-Porgona in India and later a video interview was conducted in Holdiram, Razlokkhi Bedding (which the witness termed as his workplace). After being asked how he was called for the interview, the witness replied that he was not called but he volunteered upon hearing that an investigation was being carried out. However, the witness said that he never complained about his father’s killing to any Police Station or investigation agency and does not  know whether his brother Mr Gopinath Shaha who resides in Faridpur had ever filed any such complaint. The witness said that the reason for him not knowing that is because he is “not interested”.

In reply to questions posed by the defense about his connections to Mujahid, the witness replied that Mujahid is probably second or third amongst three sons, although he did not know the names of Mujahid’s brothers. He stated that he does not know where Mujahid studied, but said that Mujahid’s younger brother read with his own brother Khirodh Shaha who completed his matriculation before 1971. When asked about the 29th of Boishakh (Bengali calendar month) which the witness mentioned in his testimony, he replied that he does not remember which Bengali calendar year it was or the precise English date. He stated he does not remember the date or year when his sister got married in Bakchor as he was only 5 or 6 years old. He said that he did not see Razakars in Faridpur city, but heard of and saw Razakar and Al-Badr forces in Bakchor. He said that Alauddin Kha and Jalil Mouluvi were senior citizens of the locality in 1971 and claimed that they were involved in the formation of Razakar and Al-Badr. He also said he knows the name of another Razakar from Faridpur, Ohab Matkar.

The Defense questioned the witness about the place of occurrence, characteristics of the location, and the communication arrangements in the region during 1971.  He said that there was a narrow road going from Duldi to Bakchor and another dirt path from Shibrampur to Bakchor. A road alongside the River Kumar went from Duldi to Khalilpur Bazar. There was no canal but a few diversions were present. He said there was a mud path in the South and a house for the cow herders in the West.  The witness stated that the house of Anil Shaha, his sister’s husband, was 50 or 70 yards North from the Sree Ongon where his father was killed. He said there were five types of trees in the Sree Ongon and the victims were killed under those trees. In the back of Anil’s house (in the east side) was the fruit tree from which the claimed to have seen the killing. He claimed that he climbed to the peak of the fruit tree which was 20/25 hands (approximately 35 feets) high and saw through the branches and leaves that his father was being killed. He also saw and heard his mother and sister requesting the accused to spare the father.

At the end of the cross-examination, the witness began crying again (he previously cried during direct examination) and asked the judges to do justice. The judge stated that the tribunal is under an obligation to give justice both to the victims of war crimes as well as the accused by ensuring a fair trial.