25 March 2013: ICT-1 Daily Summary – Chowdhury Cross-Examination of PW 23

25 March 2013: ICT-1 Daily Summary –

Today the Tribunal heard matters in the following cases:

  1. Contempt Proceedings vs. the Economist – Reply from Respondent
  2. Chief Prosecutor vs. Salauddin Qader Chowdhury – Hearing of Request for Police Escort, Prosecution Witness 23

Today Mustafizur Rahman, counsel for the named respondents in the contempt proceedings against the Economist, submitted their reply and the Tribunal fixed 24 April 2013 for a hearing. The South Asian Bureau Chief of the Economist and the Chief Editor of the London based weekly were named in contempt proceedings that the Tribunal initiated on 6 December 2012. The Tribunal issued a notice asking them to show cause why action for interference with the ongoing trials and violating the privacy of a judge in conjunction with the publication of alleged skype conversations between the former Tribunal 1 Chairman and foreign lawyer Ahmed Ziauddin.

Today the Tribunal also heard arguments from Ahsanul Huq Hena, Senior Defense Counsel for Salauddin Qader Chowdhury, in support of his application for police protection coming to the Tribunal during hartal (strike) days. The advocate submitted that he represents Salauddin Qader Chowdhury, Mobarak Hossain alias Mobarak Ali, and Abdul Alim. Hena stated that he is does not belong to any political party and comes to court in a professional context. He further submitted that on his way to the Tribunal he has been followed and threatened in offensive language by people outside the court. Because he resides far away from the Tribunal and has to cross several areas to come to the Tribunal, Hena stated that it is unsafe and troublesome for him to attend proceedings during hartal days.

Prosecutor Sultan Mahmud Simon agreed with the Defense application and stated that if the provisions of law (he did not make it clear which law) allowed Prosecution counsel to receive police protection then Defense Counsel should be similarly assisted. The Tribunal verbally allowed the Defense application and asked Prosecutor Sultan Mahmud Simon to communicate the Tribunal’s approval to the police. The Tribunal also scheduled 27 March as the date for passing its order regarding this application.

After hearing the Defense application, the Tribunal then turned to the Defense’s cross-examination of Prosecution witness 23, Bano Gopal Dash. After the completion of the cross-examination the Tribunal adjourned the proceedings of the case until 27 March 2013.

Chief Prosecutor vs. Salauddin Qader Chowdhury
Cross-examination of Prosecution Witness 23
Ahsanul Huq Hena questioned Prosecution witness 23, Bano Gopal Das, about whether he was the editor of a magazine ‘Mukthi Juddhe Boalkhali.’ Bano responded that the magazine made him a member of the editorial panel without his permission. He further testified that Abul Bashor (PW-21) was the editor of this magazine. Bano admitted that an article he (Bano) wrote was published in this magazine with the title ‘Mohan Mukthijuddher Sriti Charon.’ Hena asked Bano whether he had written in ‘Mukti Juddhe Boalkhali’ that Abdul Wazed, Rezaul Karim and Fazlu Ostad had actually died during their attack on the Gomdandi Pakastani army camp. Prosecutor Sultan Mahmud Simon objected that the Defense should not be allowed to ask questions regarding a book that was not exhibited. Bano replied that he made a mistake in his writing and that Fazlul Huq Bari – alias Fazlu Ostad – and Razaul Karim Arbi – alias Baby – died during the attack, while Abdul Wazed was only injured and died later (as alleged by the Prosecution). Bano admitted that he did not mention in his writing that he had heard from Razakars that Wazed was taken to Goods Hill.

Bano said that he could not remember what was written as his date of birth on his SSC certificate and National ID card. He said that he could not say how many houses were in the compound of the CO office. He said that he did not describe the incident to their commander Soliman. Bano said he learned of the incident from Soliman as he was their commander. He acknowledged that Soliman is still alive and said he does not know which political party Soliman now supports. Bano said that Soliman’s camp was beside the Dangamuri cannel. Bano said that he (Bano) went to India through Sabrum in Ramgor. He said that he did not collect a refugee ID card from the Indian government and cannot say whether a refugee ID card was a mandatory condition of entry into India or not. He said that he did not meet with Ayub Bengali, Nurul Islam Master or Humayun in Subrum. He said that he was not given any ID card in the Harina camp. Bano also denied that he was lying and had not actually gone to India during the Liberation War.

Bano testified that an informer told him that in the morning injured Wazed was taken from the location of the attack. Bano stated the informant did not tell him specifically what time he was taken. Bano identified the informer as Ahmed Shafa. He said that he does not know how many siblings Shafa had. The Defense asked Bano about his profession and Bano replied that he is not currently employed. He denied that his name was not on the Chittagong list of freedom fighters, however, he admitted that he cannot remember his serial number on the list. Bano said that he did not know whether anyone from his group followed the motor vehicle taking Wazed away in order to confirm where he was taken.

Bano testified that he knew about Aholla Darbar Sharif and Moju Vander Darbar Sharif. He said that Hindus, Buddhists, Christians and people from all religions used to go to these two. Bano said that he heard from others that Aholla Darbar Sharif helped people who supported the Liberation War. He admitted that the passengers of the Bangura and Gomdandi rail station were regularly checked by the Razakars and Pakistani army. He said that he heard that the gunboat of the Pakistani Navy used the Karnofuli river and surrounding areas of the Kalurghat bridge and that there was a Razakar camp near the Kalurghat bridge where they used to check motor vehicles.

Bano had testified that Wazed’s parents did not visit the spot after hearing of the incident. Bano admitted that some small vehicles used the road in front of the CO office. Bano testified that he heard from others that Wazed’s body was found in the field in front of the CO office.

Bano stated that during the Liberation War he had a gun, but admitted that he does not have the surrender form. He claimed that he surrendered his gun to his commander. Bano said that he gave an interview to the Investigating Officer in the rest house of Boalkhali Upazilla. He also said that during his interview Rafique, Ekhlas Mia, Badsha Mia were present in the rest house. Bano said that among them Ekhlas Mia and Badsha Mia were freedom fighters. He said that he was with Rafique, Ekhlas Mia, Badsha Mia, Bashor and many more when they showed the Investigating Officer the spot of the alleged incident. He said that they were not notified about the Investigating Officer’s visit to their area but said that he was informed by Bashar (another prosecution witness) by phone. He testified that he did not hear whether any one from the Shen camp went attempted to recover Wazed’s body. Bano said that after the Liberation War he heard that there had been a camp of Pakistani police in Goods Hill. He said that he did not know whether the Pakistani army used the circuit house to detain those freedom fighters and supporters of the liberation war captured in the city, while using the Army camp at the Stadium for those captured outside the city.

At this stage Defense counsel Hena began to quiz Bano about whether he is familiar with different locations such as Dewangi Pukur Par, C&B office, the distance from Goods Hill, etc. Then Tribunal Chairman stopped him and said that the Tribunal will only record relevant questions.

Bano testified that he thought Razakar Zakir might have been from Kanungo para and Razakar Shiraj was from Kadurkhil. He said that he did not know whether any case was filed against these two Razakars.

In the afternoon Hena continued to cross-examine Bano. Bano stated that he does not know whether there was a boundary wall surrounding the CO office or not. He admitted that at that time there was a family quarter in the CO office. Bano testified that he does not know whether most of the staff of the CO office resided in the complex or not. Bano said that due to the massacre by the Pakistani army, Razakars and activists of the Muslim League, a huge amount of people fled the country for India. Hena then began to quiz Bano about the Council Muslim League, Peace committee, the secretary of the Chittagong Peace Committee, the Chairman of the Boalmari Peace Committee, etc..

Bano testified that he does not know whether Yeahya Khan had a bad relationship with the Fazlul Qader Chowdhury (father of Salauddin Qader Chowdhury) or not. He further testified that he does not know whether Yeahya froze the funds of the Convention Muslim League before the elections or not. He denied that during 1971 Salauddin Qader Chowdhury and his father were not involved in anti-Liberation War activities.

Bano testified that in the last election he did not campaign in support of Moinuddin Khan. He said that Earshad Ullah stood against Moinuddin in the election. However he testified that he does not know whether Salauddin Qader Chowdhury campaigned for Earshad Ullah or not. Bano said that he did not file any case regarding the incident of the CO office and that he did not know whether the family members of Wazed filed any case. He also testified that he didn’t know if any family member of the alleged 300/350 victims killed at Sakhpur or Kadurkhil filed a case against Salauddin Qader Chowdhury. He denied that the excavation of the alleged mass graves were started after this case began. Bano testified that he could not name the commanding trainer at the camp in India where he received his training. He denied that Wazed died in initial attack on the Pakistani Army Camp and he was not taken to Goods Hill. He testified that Pakistani army did not attack the Shen Bari camp during the Liberation War.

Bano said that he himself did not interrogate Razakar Shiraj and Zakir. They were interrogated by Bashor. He could not name whether anyone else was present with Bashor during the interrogation.

Bano testified that he could not remember whether he told the Investigating Officer that he went to India for training in mid-May. He alleged that with the help of Muslim League supporters and Salauddin Qader Chowdhury the Pakistani army killed 300 to 350 persons in Shakpura and Kadurkhil. He said that at Shakpura a monument marking a mass grave has been built and another is being constructed to mark the mass grave at Kadurkhil.

Bano denied that he did not participate in the Liberation War in 1971 and he actually stayed in the Aholla Darbar Sharif during the nine months of Liberation War. He denied that he had agreed to give false testimony in return for money. He denied that the Hindu, Buddhist and Christian Parishad and Moinuddin Khan Badal pressured him to give false testimony before the Tribunal.