21 April 2013: ICT-1 Daily Summary – Chowdhury Examination of PW 27

Today the Tribunal heard matters in the following cases:

Chief Prosecutor vs. Salauddin Qader Chowdhury –Examination of PW 27

Today the Tribunal heard both the direct and cross-examination of Prosecution witness 27, Dr. A.K.M Shafiullah. Shafiullah was first a medical student and later the Assistant Registrar at the Chittagong Medical College in 1971.

Prosecution’s Examination-in-Chief
The witness testified that he obtained his medical degree from Chittagong Medical College in 1970 and that he joined to Surgical Unit 1 of the Chittagong Medical College as an institutional trainee. He became a medical officer in the same ward in July of 1971, and in August was assigned to the post of Assistant Register. He testified that toward the end of September he received a call around 10pm that he was needed urgently at the hospital. He arrived at the ward within half an hour and found army, police and others there. He further testified that Salauddin Qader Chowdhury, son of Fazlul Qader Chowdhury, was seriously injured. According to his recollection Chowdhury was wounded in the leg and and received primary treatment at the hospital, staying 3 or 4 days. The witness said that he later heard that Salauddin was taken to Dhaka or outside of the country for better treatment. He stated that he had been interviewed by the Investigating Officer identified Salauddin Qader Chowdhury in the dock.

Defense’s Cross-Examination of Witness 27
The Defense began by questioning the witness about his personal details, including where he lived during his employment at the hospital and the location of his home district. They then asked him about his work at the hospital. Shafiullah testified that he is aware of the rules and regulations for the admission of an injured at the medical college hospital. He testified about the staff hierarchy at the hospital and identified the director in 1971 as Colonel or Lieutenant Colonel. He named the Principal, Head of Medicine and Head of Surgery in 1971.

The Defense then questioned the witness regarding the specific events of the day that Chowdhury allegedly was brought into the hospital. The witness testified that he did not know whether Salauddin Qader Chowdhury went to the emergency section before entering the ward. He admitted that the general rule is that a patient first goes to the emergency ward and after the completion of registration is moved to the relevant ward. In each ward he said there was generally an assistant registrar, medical officer, intern doctor and a few nurses on duty. He testified that in his ward there was a registrar named Mahbubur Rahman. He acknowledged that persons accompanying an emergency patient have record their name on the registry form. He added that the people did not always follow these rules. When a patient is admitted into the ward he was given a bed head ticket. Additionally the witness confirmed that when a patient left the hospital he was given a discharge certificate. The witness could not remember the doctor and head nurse on duty the day that Chowdhury was admitted. He said that as far as he could recall he treated Salauddin Qader Chowdhury himself.

The Defense then asked the witness about his knowledge of events during the Liberation War and after, as well as his familiarity with Chowdhury. Shafiullah testified that he regularly read newspapers but could not remember when the Ershad government took power. He said that he had heard that Salauddin Qader Chowdhury was a minister in the Ershad government but did not remember if he was health minister or not.Shafiullah admitted that in 1971 members of the law enforcement guarded the gates of the medical college, emergency and other important . He also stated that if freedom fighters or arrested persons were admitted to the ward police were deployed for security.

Shafiullah said that he was interviewed by the Investigatin Officer at the Chittagong Circuit House in the presence of Prosecutor Rana Das Gupta. He denied that Rana Das Gupta asked him any questions. He did not remember whether he saw a newspaper  notice stating that the Investigating Officer would investigating crimes in his area.

Shafiullah testified that in 1975 he went to Libya and returned to Bangladesh in 1985. He did not rejoin the medical college after returning. He testified that he knew Dr Mahfuzur Rahman and said that he was a freedom fighter. Shafiullah acknowledged that he read parts of the book Bangali r Jatiotabadi Shangram Mukthi Juddhe Chittagong. He claimed not to remember whether the incident involving Salauddin Qader Chowdhury was discussed in the book. He admitted that he had no documentation regarding the treatment of Salauddin Qader Chowdhury at the hospital. He stated that he has documentation of his employment at Chittagong Medical College in 1971, but did not provide it to the Investigating Officer because it was not requested.

Shafiullah said he did not know if Salauddin Qader Chowdhury terminated the employment of 1800 doctors during his tenure as Health Minister because they were living out-of-country but still drawing salary from the government. He denied that his employment was terminated due to Chowdhury’s decision. He also denied that he was lying about working at Chittagong Medical College in 1971.

Shafiullah stated that he was a former supporter of the Chhatra Union but did not support the Chhatra League. The Defense suggested that the witness was lying and that Chowdhury was not in fact taken to Chittagong Medical College at the end of September 1971. The witness denied this allegation and denied that he is falsely testifying against Chowdhury because of ideological differences. He also denied giving false testimony because he shares political allegiances with Prosecutor Rana Das Gupta, or that the Prosecutor has instructed him to provide false testimony.