18 April 2013: ICT-2 Daily Summary – Mujahid Cross-Examination of PW 17

Today the Tribunal heard matters in the following cases:

  1. Chief Prosecutor vs. Abdul Alim: Rescheduling of PW 16, Accused Present
  2. Prosecution vs. Ali Ahsan Mohammed Mujahid : Cross-examination of PW 17, Accused Present

Today the Prosecutor in the case against Abdul Alim, Mr Rana Das Gupta, requested an adjournment of the case until the 22nd or 23rd of April, due to difficulties in producing Prosecution witness 16. He stated that the witness had encountered difficulty in reaching Dhaka and therefore was not present. Defense counsel, Mr Ahsanul Huq Hena, added that the 23rd would be appropriate as it has been announced as a hartal day and it is unlikely that the Defense counsel in other cases will appear. The Tribunal agreed and scheduled 23 April 2013 for the next hearing.

The Tribunal then turned to the case against Mujahid, in which the Defense resumed its cross-examination of  Prosecution witness 17, the Investigation Officer Abdur Razzaq. The Defense’s core line of questioning aimed at highlighting the various procedural flaws in the investigation process and underlying deficiencies that undermine the reliability of the officer’s findings.

Chief Prosecutor vs. Mujahid: Cross-Examination of PW 17
The witness testified that he went to Gopinath Shaha’s house at 11 a.m. He confirmed that Gopinath Shaha’s three siblings, Khirodh Shaha, Shakti Shaha (PW-13), and Kanon Bala live in India. The Investigating Officer admitted that Prosecution witness 13, Shakti Shaha, periodically comes to Bangladesh and that this fact was not included in the statement of Gopinath Shaha.

The Defense suggested that during the investigation it was discovered that Gopinath had previously filed a case regarding his father’s death. They alleged tat this fact was being concealed because Mujahid’s name was among the accused in the prior case. The Investigating Officer denied the allegations. He admitted that he did not determine the date of Shakti Shaha’s last visit to Bangladesh prior to the witness’ date of testimony.

The Investigating Officer testified that after visiting Gopinath’s home, he went to Bakchor to see the Sree Ongon, where some of the alleged crimes occurred. He acknowledged that he took photographs of the site but did not make a sketch. He stated that the site does not have a plot number. The Investigating Officer said he is unaware of the identity of the caretaker of the Sree Ongon, but stated that one China Shaha lives there. He acknowledged that he did not record any statement from her. The witness claimed he at the site from 11:40 a.m. until 3 p.m. During this time, he also went to the houses of Chitra Ranjan Shaha, Nimai Shaha, Rakhal Shaha and Joyonto Shaha. Their statements were also not recorded. He denied that he failed to record their statements because they did not provide information that implicated the Accused. He said that he did not record their statements because all of them except Chitra Ranjan Shaha were only 6 or 7 years old during the Liberation War. When pressed by the Defense the witness admitted that he did not check their birth certificates.

After leaving Bakchor the Investigating Officer testified that he went to Khailpur Bazar in Makchor. There he visited the Makchor Union Parishad Office which was allegedly used as a office for the Razakars. He acknowledged that he did not create a sketch map of the site. He also admitted that he did not interview the Chairman, secretary, member or local police officer of the Makchor UP. He denied that it situated in the west of Dhaka-Faridpur highway. The witness stated that he visited the Circuit House before returning to Dhaka.

At this point on of the judges interjected that the counsel is conducting his cross-examination like any other criminal case, whereas in this case sketch maps will not have any impact.

The Defense counsel and the judges disagreed. The Defense argued that the Investigation Officer, as a member of the police, is bound to follow the procedure of the PRB code. However the judge reiterated that it does not apply in the ICT.

The witness testified that he collected the book Muktijuddho Faridpur from his investigation associate Nur Hossain on 7 June 2011. The names of the leading freedom fighters are listed in the book. He admitted that he did not interview them or those affected during the war. However, the witness testified that he met with the author, Abu Sayeed  Khan, though his statement was not recorded. The witness denied that he failed to record the statement because the author did not implicate the Accused. He claimed the statement was not recorded because the writer referred to the Accused as Maolana Syed Ali Ahsan Muhammad Mujahid. The  Defense suggested that the writer was actually referring to the Central Jamaat Leader of 1971, Maolana Syed Mohammad Ali, who was a candidate for Member of National Assembly. The witness denied the suggestion but admitted that the book does not contain any reference to the Bakchor incident.

The Investigating Officer testified that he did not notify any of the individuals he met with in advance of his arrival for the investigation. He stated that he collected a list of injured and martyrs and that Ranjit Nath’s name did not appear in the list.