13 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

The Defense continued closing arguments for the 3rd day. They submitted their arguments regarding the testimony of Prosecution witnesses 1, 2 and 3.

Chief Prosecutor vs. Gholam Azam
At the beginning of the Tribunal’s proceedings Defense counsel Mizanul Islam submitted that on March 11, 2013 he mistakenly claimed that under the Collaborators Act 1972 a member of Razakar, Al-Badr, Al-Shams and Peace Committee could be punished based on the membership alone. He corrected himself, stating that under the Collaborators Act 1972 it was crime to fight against freedom fighters. He confirmed that Prosecution relied on Exhibit-519 which he discussed before.

Prosecution Witness 1
Regarding Exhibit-FD, the Defense argued that the author, Prosecution witness 1, had made no comment regarding the list of Peace Committee members mentioned on page no 200. He submitted that the witness did not mention any source or reference for this information. He drew the Tribunal’s attention to the research works of M.A Hasan and Muntasir Mamun (Prosecution witness 1), in which different names were given for the post of Secretary of Peace Committee. The Defense raised doubts about the reliability of the authors’ research. Additionally they argued that there was no gazette notification, circular or order from the government or from any forces of the government which authorized or declared Peace Committee as an auxiliary force. Mizanul Islam submitted that the first duty of the Prosecution was to prove that the Peace Committee was an armed force before considering them as auxiliary force.

The Defense noted that Prosecution witness 1 had testified that he doesn’t know the number of National Assembly seats that were contested by Jamaat-e-Islami in the 1970 election out of the total number of 162 seats. Additionally the witness said that he did not know the number of seats contested by Jamaat-e-Islami in the Provincial Assembly elections in 1970 out of the total number of 300 seats. He said that he did not know the number of members and workers in Jamaat-e-Islami. He said he did not know how many students were students of Islami Chhatra Sangha at Dhaka University and that he could not remember even one or two members of Islami Chhatra Sangha who were in his class. He claimed that there were no Al-Badr members in his class. Mizanul Islam questioned how the witness could know that Jamaat-e-Islami was the largest opposition political party in 1970 and that most of its members were also members of the Razakars, Al-Badr and Al-Shams.

Mizanul Islam submitted that the witness was asked whether he had any information as to any orders issued by the Pakistani Military placing Jamaat-e-Islami, Muslim League, Pakistani Democratic Party and Nezami Islam Party under their control. The witness replied no such order or directive was necessary.

The Defense noted that the witness had testified that majority of the members of Razakar force were from Jamaat-e-Islami. Mizanul Islam noted that the Defense had questioned how the witness could know the political affiliation ofRazakars when he was unable to name any of the Razakars. The witness had responded that Gholam Azam and other Jamaat leaders used to give inciting and inspiring speeches to the Razakars and sought assistance from Pakistani government and Military government. He said he had learned of these speeches and activities from reports published in the Daily Shangram. He further testified that he doesn’t know how many Razakars he has identified from newspaper reports. The Defense argued that no one can be convicted solely based on news reports, particularly where given the imposition of censorship on newspapers during the relevant time and the fact that individuals were afraid to express their personal views. The witness admitted that censorship was imposed for all of the newspapers.

The Defense also noted that the witness had testified that Gholam Azam formed the East Pakistan Restoration Committee. It was also alleged that Gholam Azam went to Saudi Arabia and met with the king of Saudi Arabia with the help of his brother Dr Gholam Muazzem, and he requested the King not to recognize the newly formed Bangladesh. It was also alleged that Dr Gholam Muazzem was the personal doctor of King of Saudi Arabia. The Defense pointed to the testimony of Defense witness 1, who had denied these allegations and said that Gholam Muazzem was a pathologist. The Investigating Officer testified that Gholam Azam met with the King of Saudi Arabia in March of 1971 but did not name who provided that information. The Defense noted that the IO had admitted that he had no documentary evidence regarding this meeting but claimed he had a statement from that unnamed source. The Defense submitted that the King of Saudi Arabia died on 25 March1971 and so meeting with him in March was unrealistic. Additionally the Defense noted that the IO had testified that in 1978 Gholam Azam came to Dhaka from London using a Pakistani passport but he admitted that he had not seen that passport.

Prosecution Witness 2: Mahbub Uddin
The Defense then addressed the testimony of Prosecution witness 2, Mahbub Uddin. Uddin testified that he was responsible for Sub-Sector A (Alpha Company) of Sector No 8. He testified that he does not know in which district Dumuria Police Station was located. The IO testified that Dumuria Police station was under the sector no 8 and the mass grave of Chuknagar was located in Dumuria. Mizanul Islam submitted that the Chuknagar killing was committed there but that the IO admitted that he did not investigate about this killing and Uddin did not mention anything about this killing.

Uddin also testified that prior to the Liberation War, the Police Force assisted in training the Ansar and Mujahid, but he said that he could not remember who was the chief of the Mujahid force. He said he could not remember when he first heard the declaration of Bangladesh’s independence. He also said he could not remember where they held arrested members of the Razakars, Al-Badr and Al-Shams forces. Uddin stated from May to 16 December 1971 he himself did not arrest any Razakars, Al-Badr or Al-shams forces. He said that he does not remember the name of the chief of the Ansar force at the time of its dissolution. He said that he could not remember the name of the first director of the Razakar forces.

The Defense recalled that Uddin testified that he joined as SP of Dhaka on 28 February 1973. Before that he was the Deputy Secretary of the Defense Ministry, Home Ministry and Personal Secretary of Home Minister. He said that he had heard that after the Liberation War two cases were filed against Gholam Azam under the Collaborators Act. He said that he did not know whether any Charge Sheet was submitted in that case. He testified that he does not know whether any press release was issued by the Government on 17th April 1973 regarding the trial of war criminals. He claimed not to know whether any allegations of commission of war crimes were brought against Gholam Azam between 17 April 1973 and 15 August 1975. He said that he does not know whether any list of alleged war criminals was made by the government of Sheikh Mojibur Rahman. The Defense questioned the reliability of these denials given his government positions.

Uddin claimed that he did not know whether the MNA (Member of National Assembly) Aziz had any power to punish a subordinate (Uddin’s subordinate) for the wrong done by his subordinate, but he said that if they there had been any wrong doing he would have punished his subordinate (Uddin’s subordinate). Mizanul Islam submitted that if Aziz as a leader of Shangram Parishad had no power to punish a subordinate, the Prosecution cannot claim that Gholam Azam had such powers. Mizanul Islam submitted that during the cross-examination Uddin testified that the Operation Search Light was planned by the Pakistani military government and carried out as an attack upon the civilian population which was under the control of Pakistan military government. Uddin further admitted that no political party had any control over the then military government of Pakistan. Uddin testified that AK Niazi was under the direct control of the Pakistan President Yeahya Khan. The Defense concluded that a civilian could not have command responsibility over the military government.

The Defense noted that Uddin testified that the Liberation War was a direct war between the Pakistani occupation forces and freedom fighters, and later on between the Pakistan occupation forces and freedom fighters and allied forces. He said that he does not know whether the Pakistan Army, Air Force, Navy, EPCAF, Mujahids, Razakars and West Pakistan Police and Industrial Security Force surrendered with the Niazi or not. However he said that at the time of surrender, the Pakistani Army and EPCAF were there and he (Uddin) was outside of Dhaka. Uddin testified that in April 1971 the Peace Committee was formed under the leadership of Gholam Azam and others and soon after the Razakar forces were formed under an ordinance. He further admitted that his duty was in Sathkhira but he did not know any members of Razakar, Al-Badr, Al-Shams of this area.

Uddin deniedthat that he did not tell the Investigating Officer that Gholam Azam was the leader of Jamaat-e-Islami, and that Jamaat-e-Islami as the largest political party and its students wing Islami Chhatra Shangha led the commission of crimes against humanity. Uddin said that he did not know whether the salary of members of Razakars, Al-Badr, Al-Shams and Peace Committee was paid by Gholam Azam or not, and that he did not know whether salary was under his (Gholam Azam’s) control or not.

The Defense then pointed out contradictions in Uddin’s testimony. Mizanul Islam submitted that the Prosecution did not challenge the statement recorded by the Investigating Officer either by leading questions or declaring the witness to be hostile and therefore there is no scope to accept the contradictory part of the statement given by the witness before the Tribunal.

Prosecution Witness 3: Sultana Kamal
The Defense read out the examination and cross-examination of Prosecution witness 3, Sultana Kamal. Mizanul Isalm submitted that Kamal testified that Gholam Azam regularly met with Tikka Khan and leaders of the Pakistani occupying forces and discussed strategy for maintaining the unity of Pakistan. Kamal also said that the highest levels of the Pakistani army praised Gholam Azam for his role in maintaining the unity of Pakistan. She also said that Gholam Azam repeatedly stated that he is ready to do anything and everything for the unity of Pakistan. Mizanul Islam submitted that ‘to keep the unity of Pakistan’ supported the Defense’s case and that the Chairman of the Tribunal had admitted as much.

Kamal testified that she had heard that Al-Badr planned to attack her mother Sufia Aktar but that her mother did not tell her any names of the planners. The Defense noted that Kamal admitted that while she was in Dhaka she did not see any members of Al-Badr but nonetheless described them as a killer force. She had further testified that she heard that Al-Badr members always kept their faces covered during operations. She admitted that she could not identify any members of Al-Badr by their name or face. She said that up to 16 June 1971 she was in Dhanmondi but that she did not see any members of the Razakars in the Dhanmondi area and did not hear anyone name Razakar members. Even after the Liberation War she testified that she did hear of or see any members of Razakars, Al-Badrs or Al-Shams in Dhanmondi area. Mizanul Islam said that Kamal’s testimony was based on assumption alone. The Defense stated that one cannot be punished based on assumptions, and that such statements fall below the Prosecution’s burden of proof. Mizanul Islam submitted that the Prosecution failed to produce any documents regarding the presence of Al-Badr in the Dhanmondi area. He questioned how anyone would know that a masked criminal was a member of  Al-Badr.

The Defense additionally noted that Kamal admitted that she did not mention the name of victim to the Investigating Officer. She further admitted that she had no documentary evidence regarding Gholam Azam’s approval of the killing of the intellectual community at the end of the war. She admitted that during the Bonghobondhu government many cases were lodged regarding crimes committed during the war, but she was unable to say whether it was 50 cases or more. She also testified that these cases were advanced to the appellate division of the High Court. Kamal admitted that Gholam Azam was not accused in any of those cases. She claimed that documents relating to the planning of the massacre of the intellectual community were obtained from the house of a Pakistani minister but could not say what those document were based on or how they were obtained. The Defense noted that the original informer is alive and asked why he had been brought before the Tribunal. He additionally questioned why the victim’s family members were not called to testify before the Tribunal.