The Tribunal heard matters in the following cases:
- Chief Prosecutor vs. Motiur Rahman Nizami – Cross Examination of PW 5
Today the Defense in the Nizami case concluded their cross-examination of Prosecution witness 5, Nazim Uddin Khattab. The Tribunal then adjourned the case until 30 April 2013.
Nazim Uddin Khattab testified in support of Charge no 4 which alleges that Motiur Rahman Nizami conspired to commit crimes under section 3(2)(g) of the Act and was complicit in murder, rape, looting and destruction of property in the village of Karajma. The Charges are framed as Crimes Against Humanity under section 3(2)(h), section 3(2)(g) and 3(2)(a) read with section 4(1) and section 4(2) of the ICT Act 1973.
During the examination-in-chief, Nazim Uddin Khattab had testified that he received training as a freedome fighter for the Liberation War and regarding the UPR camp. Defense Counsel Mizanul Islam asked him who was in charge of the camp. Khattab replied Major Ibrahim and Habildar Ali Akbar were responsible. The Defense suggested that UPR was established at the request of Abu Sayed after the formation of the Razakar and Al-Badr forces, as well as the Peace Committee. Khattab denied the suggestion and testified that before the camp was set up in the area before the formation of the Razakar and Al-Badr forces or the Peace Committee. The Defense asked how long after the UPR camp was established the Peace Committee, Razakar f and Al-Badr forces were formed. Khattab was unable to provide a timeline. The Defense again asked him when he first heard about the Peace Committee . Khattab replied that he first heard about the three groups before 19 April 1971. Previously during the Proesecuiton’s examination-in-chief Khattab had claimed that the Union Board Chairman Khoda Box was Chairman of the Peace Committee and a leader of Muslim League. The Defense suggested that Major Ibrahim arrested Khoda Box. Khattab denied the suggestion.
During the examination-in-chief Khattab had also testified regarding an individual named Rofikun Nabi Bublu, .stating that he had gone into hiding after the Liberation War. In response to the Defense’s questions he said that he did not know whether Rofikun’s father, Shiraj, was a doctor but noted that his title was doctor. Khattab denied the Defense’s suggestion that Shiraj practiced in Bera as a doctor.
The Defense questioned the witness about the Razakar camp. He replied that there was no Razakar or Al-Badr camp in Koromja Union, only the camp located at the office of the local Peace Committee. He also stated that Razakars and Al-Badr set up camp in Nogorbari. Khattab had testified during the examination-in-chief that he used to deliver food to the Freedom Fighter’s camp in Nogorbari. The Defense asked him several question about his knowledge of the camp. Khattab provided information regarding the camp’s location but could not answer say who was in charge of the camp.
Khattab had claimed that Dulal and Probon were with him when he witnessed the alleged incident. The witness admitted that Dulal and Probon currently reside in India but could not specify where. After further questioning Khattab changed his answer and said that Dulal now resides in Dhaka. He also stated that the Zamidar Bari is now detaining another two persons, one is a supporter of Awami League and another is a supporter of BNP. Defense posed questions about Zatin Mitro to show that Megha Thakur, whom Khattab claimed to be the Zamidar (landlord) was not actually the Zamidar. Khattab admitted that Zatin Mitro was the Zamidar but denied the suggestion that Megha Thakur had never been Zamidar.
Khattab admitted that he did not personally lodge any complaint in any court. The Defense asked him question about Akkas, who wal allegedly killed along with the witness’ uncle Habibur Rahman Sardar and Abu Sama Fakir. During the examination-in-chief Khattab claimed that Sama witnessed the killing and informed his grandfather’s family about the incident. On cross Khattab failed to answer the Defense’s questions regarding Akkas and said that he did not look for Akkas. Khattab testified that he could not recall who informed him about the killing of his uncle.
The Defense asked Khattab who helped him to carry his uncle’s corpse to his grandfather’s house after the murder. Khattab responded that he doesn’t remember. The Defense then asked him whether he could name any corroborating witness other than Abu Sama Fakir . Khattab answered that he could not remember the names of other witnesses. When asked if he spoke with the witnesses to his uncle’s killing in order to gather more information, Khattab answered that he could not remember. Khattab said that he hid in Panishail, Baya and Tolot.
The Defense then asked the witness about Azgor Ali Shardar and Sahed Ali Pramanik. He responded that he knows them and that they were injured during the Liberation War. Then Defense asked him whether he informed the Investigating Officer about these people. Khattab said that he did and that the Investigating Officer visited their homes.
Previously Khattab stated that he and his family recovered the bones of people buried at the scene on 7 December 2000 in the presence of Abu Sayed, Police, Muktijuddha Commander (commander of Freedom fighters) and local people. The Defense asked him whether he was aware that the previous day (6 December 2000) Motiur Rahman Nizami was elected as Ameer (chief) of Jamaat-e-Islami. Khattab answered that he was unaware of the election. The Defense asked Khattab where he saw Motiur Rahman Nizami, what he used to do during Liberation War, and where he resided in 1971. Khattab answered that he saw Nizami in the meeting of Union Board Office in 1971 but that he did not know where Nizami resided or what he used to do in 1971. He further testified that he did never tried to obtain this information.
After the lunch break Mizanul Islam continued the cross-examination. During the examination-in-chief, Khattab had testified that 8 of the corpses were buried in a single place and a single corpse was buried in another place since the people who were present raised objection due to his low class. Defense asked him who had objected to the lower class victim’s burial with the group. Khattab was unable to answer.
The witness previously testified that he saw the ID cards of Pocha Biswash and Khoda Box, bearing the signature of Motiur Rahman Nizami. He alleged that Pocha Biswash was the guard and Khoda box was the then chairman of the local Union Parishad Board. The Defense asked Khattab whether Pocha Biswash was a Razakar. Khattab testified that he did not know and affirmed his prior testimony Biswash was a guard. Then Defense asked him whether general people were given an ID card. Khattab did not know. He testified that he did not see the ID card of any Razakars. He could not remember what else appeared on the ID card aside from Nizami’s signature. Khattab testified that he did not apply for entry in the freedom fighter’s list of 1986. He admitted that his uncle Habibur Rahman Sardar’s name does not appear on the list of recognized martyrs. He said that he was interviewed in Sathiya’s rest-house and signed after giving the interview.
The Defense claimed that Khattab did not tell the Investigating Officer about many of the incidents he alleged in the course of his courtroom testimony. He denied the allegations.
The Tribunal criticized Prosecutor Mir Iqbal for his poor performance and warned him not to waste Tribunal’s valuable time. It should be noted that on 25 April he failed to control Prosecution Witness 5. The Chairman stated that it is the Prosecution’s duty to prove the facts alleged by the witness in his initial interview with the Investigating Officer and that they make sure their case falls within this boundary .