Today the Tribunal heard matters in the following cases:
- Chief Prosecutor vs. Abdul Alim – Examination-in-chief of Prosecution Witness 12
- Chief Prosecutor vs. Muhammad Kamaruzzaman – Examination of Defense Witness 3
Today’s proceedings started with Abdul Alim’s case. 64 years old Mosammad Laily Begum gave her testimony in support of prosecution’s case as PW-12. She testified that she was 23 in 1971 and described how her father, local homeopathy doctor Abdul Kashem, was taken from his house in Kuthibari, Jaipurhat and later killed by the Pakistani Army on 25th July 1971. Her testimony supports Charge 12. The Defense began its cross-examination, which is to be resumed the following day.
In the Kamaruzzaman case the Defense conducted the examination-in-chief of Defense witness 3, Mr Hasan Iqbal. The witness is the 33 year old son of the accused. Additionally in the Kamaruzzaman case the Prosecution requested the names of upcoming Defense witnesses in order to do perform background checks on them. However, the Defense refused to provide names, telling the Tribunal that their witnesses are constantly intimidated, threatened and are even under the risk of being abducted. Therefore they said they are unable to disclose the names of upcoming defense witnesses in advance. The Prosecution objected and claimed that they are the ones suffering from real security concerns and had to worry about attacks by extremists. The stated that these concerns cannot change the course of justice. The judges also claimed that they have received threatening text messages from those attempting to dictate verdicts but said such interference should not and will not change anything. They held that there is no mandatory requirement that the Defense disclose its witnesses’ names in advance of testimony.
Chief Prosecutor vs. Abdul Alim
The Prosecution conducted its examination-in-chief of Prosecution witness 12, Laily Begum, the daughter of victim Doctor Abul Kashem. The witness testified that in 1971 she had four sons and two daughters and was 23 years old. She stated that her father, Abul Kashem, organized the Jaipurhat Shongram Parishad after being inspired by the speech of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on 7 March,1971. She stated that on 20April 1971, her father went to her husband Mokbul Hossain’s house in Jamalpur village of Jaipur, at around 8 p.m. He told her that people of the Shongram Parishad went to Abdul Alim’s house to catch him, but Alim managed to flee from the back door. The witness also said that her father stayed at her husband’s house for few days. Later on 23rd July, she was taken to her father’s house in Debipur Village in Kazipara.
Laily Begum further testified that on 24 July 1971 at around 3 a.m. many Rajakars, AL-Badr and armed Pakistani army members surrounded their house. They knocked at her father’s door when and her brother Nazrul Islam went out to speak to them. Four army, Al-Badr and Rajakar members entered her father’s room and said that he had been summoned by Abdul Alim. When her father showed reluctance to go, they held him by his hair and pulled him out. The witness said her neice begged them not to take her grandfather but to they did not listen. The witness testified that she and her brother followed the group who took her father in the dark.
She testified that Abul Kashem was kept in Teghor Bridge Rajakar camp before being taken to Jaipurhat Rail Station blindfolded with his hands tied. The next morning at around 8 a.m., she said he was taken to Shownla Bajlal godi ghor (sitting room) to be presented before the Peace Committee chairman Abdul Alim. The witness testified that she returned to her house which is 1.5 K.M. away and later went back to the godi ghor along with her other family members.
The following day at around 3 p.m., one Rajakar, Atiqullah Bihari, came to their house and said that if Major Aksar was given Taka 5,000 (five thousand), he would let her father go. Accordingly, they gave him the money to secure her father’s release. After sometimes, Atiq Bihari came back to inform that Abul Kashem is going to be taken to Kuthibari to be shot to death as per the command of their “boss” Abdul Alim. After sometime, one Mr Shiraj who was the cook in Peace Committee’s camp came and said that her father’s eyes were gouged out and teeth broken before being brutally killed. Laily Begum testified that this took place on 25th July, 1971 in Kuthibari, where he was buried.
The witness testified that in November 1972 her father’s body was exhumed from his grave in Kuthibari and was brought to her family’s home in Debipur for re-burial. The witness said that she saw many bullet shots on the chest of her father’s body. The witness identified the accused and said that she wants justice.
The Defense counsel asked the witness whether she knew that her brother filed a case in 1972 complaining about their father’s killing. The witness at first replied “yes.” However, the Prosecution counsel Rana Das Gupta instantaneously intervened and asked her to listen to the question carefully before replying. The witness then changed her answer and said that she did not know about any such case being filed by her brother. The defense counsel strongly objected to the intervention and the court said that the prosecutor should not interfere. However, her latter statement was recorded in the testimony.
The defense then asked whether the witness’s son is currently in jail serving a sentence of life imprisonment. Upon hearing the question, the witness became upset and said that he was serving a 10 years imprisonment but that he had nothing to do with her testimony in the instant case.
Cross-examination is scheduled to continue.
Chief Prosecutor vs. Kamaruzzaman
The Defense called Mohammad Hasan Iqbal as Defense witness 3. He is the son of accused Abdul Alim and works in the Research Cell of Diganta Television. The Defense asked him to exhibited 17 defense documents for the court’s perusal. These documents pertain to variety of issues including background of the accused, a list of Rajakars and war criminals as published in some books and newspapers, documents regarding the Liberation War in Sherpur and other documents that undermine the credibility of a few of Prosecution witnesses.
The Tribunal barred the Defense from exhibiting a few official documents because they had not been authenticated by authorized persons. The court disallowed the documents because it said they had not been properly authenticated. The defense objected and said that they have collected the documents unofficially because no government official would provide them with the documents in official capacity out of fear of losing their job and fear of being accused of collaborating with alleged war criminals. The court rejected this argument and reasoned that if unattested documents were admitted, other unreliable evidence would also have to be allowed, ultimately rendering the court’s conclusions questionable.
On cross-examination the Prosecution suggested that the was willing to do anything to save his father and is prepared to conceal the truth to achieve that aim. The witness replied that he will do all lawful things necessary to save his father but would not conceal truth. The Tribunal then intervened saying that the witness cannot be asked this type of question in front of the court just because he has come to give testimony in support of his father. No further questions were asked.
The following documents were entered into evidence:
- Kamaruzzaman’s certificate of Master of Arts (Journalism) issued by Dhaka University. He completed his masters in the year 1975 [Exhibit-C, from Volume-1, page 7].
- Kamaruzzaman’s HSC certificate. He was a candidate of 1971 batch. [Exhibit-C1, from Volume-1, page 11].
- Dr S.M. Jahangir Alam, Ekattorer Juddhaporadhider Taalika (List of war criminals of seventy one); published in February 2009 [Exhibit-D, from Volume-2, pages 1-66].
- Dr M A Hasan, Juddhaporadh Gonohotta o Bichar er Onneshon; published in May 2001 [Exhibit-E, Volume-3, page 1-13].
- Weekly digest published from Sherpur named “Sherpur Shomoy” dated 26.12.2008 [Exhibit-E1, Volume-3, pages 38].
- Daily Amar Desh issue of 17.09.2010 [Exhibit-E2, Volume-3, pages 39].
- Khurshid Alim Shagor, Ronangoney Muktishena 197; pages 305 and 306. These pages contain details of the death of MMajor Aiyub.
- Muntasir Mamun, Ekatturer Bijoy Gatha. Pages 30,31,54,55 of the book describes the war that took place in Mymensingh and Sherpur region [Exhibit E4, Volume 3, pages 321,322].
- Md Abdul Shukur’s book regarding war in Mymensingh [Exhibit E5].
- Bangladesher Shaddhinota Juddho Dolilpotro, Volume 10. Pages 457, 458, 462, 463 talks about the death of Major Aiyub and about prosecution witness Jahurul Haque Munshi taking letters to the camps [Exhibit-E6, Volume 3, pages 551, 552, 554].
- Newspaper Alo’r Michil ey issue of January 2005 in which nothing about Kamaruzzaman’s presence in Jamalpur PTI camp is found [Exhibit-F, Volume-4, pages 1-11].
- “The Pakistan Army 1966-1971”, pages 160-162 which contains information about prosecution witness Jahurul Haque Munshi’s hospitality to the Pakistan army and exchanging letters.
- M Hamidullah Khan Bir Protik (Sector Commander of 1971), Ekatturer Uttar Ronangon (published in 2005), pages 264, 265 [Exhibit-G1, Volume-4, page 95].
- Appointment order dated 29.10.2011 of Nur Nobi Khan Nasim, the son of Prosecution witness Monowar Hossain Khan Mohon [Exhibit-G2, Volume-4, page-107].
- Photocopy of Gazzetter notification dated May 14, 2005; name of PW Ziaul Islam is not there as a freedom fighter even though he claimed to be one [Exhibit-G3, Volume-8, pages 140-151].
- Photocopy of PW Mohon Munshi’s Salary Sheet [Exhibit-G4, Volume-4, page-159].
- Major General KM Shofiullah Bir Uttam, “Bangladesh at war”, page 195 containing information of war in Kamlapur from 31st July-1st August [Exhibit G5, Volume-4, page 181].