10 March 2013: ICT 1 Daily Summary – Gholam Azam Defense Closing Arguments

Today the Tribunal heard matters in the following cases:

  1. Chief Prosecutor vs. Gholam Azam – Defense Closing Arguments

Today’s proceedings began with a Defense application for a week long adjournment. Senior Defense counsel, Mizanul Islam, cited the death of his mother in-law and travel schedule as reason, stating that he was not prepared to begin Defense Closing Arguments. The Tribunal rejected the application and required that Defense Counsel Mizanul Islam begin the summing up. The Defense began their Closing Arguments and continued until 11:45am. At that time they again sought adjournment and Tribunal allowed the prayer, adjourning the case until tomorrow, 11 March 2013.

Chief Prosecutor vs. Gholam Azam
Request for Adjournment
At the beginning of the Tribunal’s proceedings Defense Counsels of Gholam Azam filed an application for adjournment. Mizanul Islam submitted that he was not prepared as his mother-in-law died and he went to Rajshahi, returning late last night. He officially sought one week adjournment and prayed that the Tribunal grant at least for two days recess. Prosecutor Sultan Mahmud Simon replied that the Defense did not mention any specific grounds for adjournment in their application. He further submitted that the proceedings of the Gholam Azam’s case do not depend on Mizanul Islam alone. He argued that most of the time Defense sought adjournment mentioning ‘unavoidable’ circumstances (commonly assumed to mean hartal days) but these unavoidable circumstances were not created by the Prosecution or Tribunal. Thereafter, the Tribunal rejected the Defense application and asked Mizanul Islam to begin his Closing Arguments.

Closing Arguments
Mizanul Islam brought the Tribunal’s attention to the cross-examination of Investigation Officer (IO) PW-16. Mizanul Islam submitted that n his cross-examination the IO stated that he had produced evidence regarding the killing of SI Shiru Miah but admitted that he did not produce any evidence regarding any of the other counts (The Charges were not specified). The Defense argued that following the admission of the IO it is clear that no evidence has been submitted in support of 61 counts against Gholam Azam. Mizanul Islam questioned the reliability and acceptability of the Formal Charge. He argued that the IO’s admission cast doubt on the reliability and acceptability of the Formal Charge which was based on the reports made by the IO. 

The Defense then argued that the Prosecution described the prosecution witnesses as ‘Policy’ witnesses. Mizanul Islam argued that the testimony of these witnesses only showed that they memorized their testimony and repeated it before the Tribunal like a ‘Parrot’.

Mizanul Islam argued that up to the present date the accused has not been allowed to exercise his right under section 17(1) of the ICT Act 1973 to respond to and explain the charges against him. Mizanul Islam asked the Tribunal to pass an order clarifying when an accused will be given such opportunity.

Defense counsel submitted that official Complaint was allegedly based on two documents, but that the Defense was never given these documents. Mizanul Islam argued that the Prosecution listed a “First Information Report” in its seizure list. He argued that this is not normal practice and he had never seen such a thing in his practicing career. He further submitted that following Section 9 and section 16 of the ICT Act 1973 Defense is entitled to get such reports. He submitted that Defense did not get the Complaint or the Investigation report.

Mizanul Islam submitted that the IO had testified during cross-examination that he does not know what was in the Formal Charge (submitted by the Prosecution). He asked the Tribunal why the Formal Charge was returned after being submitted by the Prosecution. He submitted that the Tribunal had not explained its reasoning, saying only that the Formal Charge was not well categorized.

Mizanul Islam submitted that Prosecution claimed that by virtue of section 19(1) and 19(4) of the ICT Act of 1973 that they can produce any evidence at any stage of the proceedings. The Defense registered their disagreement. They further submitted that the Defense must be given an opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses regarding any additional evidence submitted. Mizanul Islam said that the Defense did not get the opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses regarding at least 6 Prosecution.

Mizanul Islam then submitted that the Prosecution had exhibited sections of the documents upon which Complaint was based. He submitted that this is a report published in Ekpokkho (Exhibit-519) where Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina claimed that she has evidence against Gholam Azam. Mizanul Islam claimed that the Prosecution failed to prove the two main allegations made in this report. He further said in the report Sheikh Hasina said that there was evidence against the accused based on a letter sent by Gholam Azam stating that Shiru Miah was killed. Mizanul Islam raised question why that letter was not produced before the Tribunal if the Prime Minister herself claimed that she had the evidence.