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

The Tribunal heard matters in the following cases:

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

On 14 March 2013 Defense Counsel Mizanul Islam continued the closing arguments for the 4th day. Thereafter, Tribunal adjourned the proceedings of the Gholam Azam’s case until 18 March 2013.

After the lunch break the Prosecution introduced new Prosecutor Turin Afroz to the Judges of the Tribunal 1. The Chairman said that Tribunal 1 would hear arguments from Prosecutor Turin Afroz and Defense Counsel Imran Siddique for one hour on 18 March regarding the issue of whether a civilian can have superior command responsibility.

Chief Prosecutor vs. Gholam Azam
Mizanul Islam questioned why the Prosecution did not produce Monoara Begum, Nurul Islam, Helal Uddin and Abdur Razzak Khan before the Tribunal to testify. Mizanul Islam submitted that the Investigating Officer admitted that he used the witness statements from other cases. The Defense argued that if these witnesses were produced the Defense would have the opportunity to cross-examine them and their statements.

Section 19(2) Witness Statement
The Investigating Officer testified that he recorded the out-of-court statement of Mohsin Ali Khan 3 August 2010 (exhibit-523). The Tribunal admitted the statement as evidence under section 19(2) of the ICT Act of 1973. Section 19(2) states that a Tribunal may receive in evidence any statement recorded by a Magistrate or an Investigation Officer being a statement made by any person who at the time of trial is dead or whose attendance cannot be procured without an amount of delay or expense which the Tribunal considers unreasonable. Mizanul Islam submitted that Mohsin Ali is not dead and there is no issue of unreasonable delay and expense. He gave an example of Sharidul Huq Mama who came from Sweden to testify before Tribunal 2. The Defense argued that the statement which the IO claimed to have been given by Mohsin Ali was not in fact his statement. Additionally the Defense submitted that the out-of-court statement contradicts the statement given by Prosecution witness 13.

The Defense submitted that Prosecution failed to produce any documentary evidence showing that Peyara Miah was a Jamaat leader. He further submitted that in the list of the Brahmanbaria Peace Committee, Exhibit-FE, page 262, ‘Shanti Committee 1971’ (Peace Committee 1971), a book written by PW-1 Muntasir Mamun, there is no one listed by the name of Peyara Miah. He further submitted that the allegations against Gholam Azam for the killing of Siru Miah were brought by the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in Parliament. Therefore it was normal that additional importance was given to Prosecution witness 1 when he was writing the book. The Defense submitted that a case was filed regarding the killing of 38 persons including Siru Miah. However, they noted that Prosecution witness-13 admitted that she herself did not file any case. Mizanul Islam questioned why she did not bring allegations against the accused for the killing of her husband and son and did not produce any supporting evidence. Mizanul Islam also questioned why the Prosecution did not produce Chinu and Gofur to testify before the Tribunal. Mizanul Islam submitted that the Prosecution’s claim that the General Register of the previous case was destroyed or lost should be investigated and analyzed.

Prosecution Witness  14  – Ahmed Imtiaz Bulbul
Mizanul Islam submitted that Prosecution Witness 14 described the alleged killing but did not directly connect Gholam Azam to the killing. He further submitted that Prosecution witness 14 could not connect the accused with the killing.

Irrelevant documents
Thereafter, the Defense discussed documents, video footage and exhibits presented by the Prosecution that had no relation to the allegations against Gholam Azam. Mizanul Islam stated that documents were about Operation Search Light, the proclamation of independence, the declaration of independence, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as head of cabinets, Nazrul Islam as acting president, speeches of President  Yeahea, etc. Mizanul Islam argued that most of these documents pertained to already admitted facts which the Defense did not challenge. However, he stated that some of them incorrectly protrayed historical events in Bangladesh. For example, one document stated that Mejor Zia Khan was the provisional head of the government and that the independence of Bangladesh was declared at 11:30 pm on 25 March 1971. Mizanul Islam also noted that the Law Ministry made changes to the transcript of Sheikh Mojibur Rahman’s speech on 7 March 1971. Mizanul Islam also submitted that the Prosecution submitted some documents which did not support the Prosecution case nor challenge the Defense’s claims. The Defense questioned the purpose of these documents and asked under which section of the Act they had been submitted. The Defense challenged the reliability of these documents. The Defense also questioned the Prosecution’s reliance on current media reporting, giving current examples of inaccuracies. The Defense requested that the Tribunal not consider documents that the Defense was not given the opportunity to cross-examine.

The Prosecution objected to this line of argument and said that without discussing the contents of the documents so elaborately, the Defense could simply argue that Prosecution did not produce the documents following the law or that the documents were not relevant and had no probative value.