6 May 2013: ICT-1 Daily Summary – Chowdhury PW 33

Today the Tribunal heard matters in the following cases:

  1. Chief Prosecutor vs Salauddin Quader Chowdhury: PW 33

Mahmud Ali, Prosecution Witness 33, testified in support of charge no 20, in which Salauddin Qader Chowdhury is charged with committing confinement, torture and murder as Crimes Against Humanity under Section 3(2)(a) of the ICT Act 1973. Defense Counsel Ahsanul Huq Hena cross-examined the witness. After the witness’ testimony was concluded the Tribunal adjourned the proceedings of the case until May 13, 2013

Prosecution Witness 33
Mahmud Ali testified that he was a farmer in 1971. He testified that in the last part of July Razakars from the CO Office found Ekhlas in Kadurkhil near the shop of Kokai. When the Razakars attempted to detain Ekhlas, Ekhlas jumped into a pond. The Razakars detained him from the pond and took him to the Razakar camp located at CO office. Mahmud testified that the Razakars then took him to home of Salauddin Qader Chowdhury at Goods Hill. He claimed that Ekhlas was tortured there and subsequently died. 2 or 3 days later Ekhlas’s father brough his son’s body back for burial. Mahmud testified that he attended the Janaza (last prayer) for Ekhlas and that his body was buried in the bank of the pond. Mahmud acknowledged that he was interviewed by the Investigating Officer. He identified Salauddin Qader Chowdhury in the dock.

The Defense then cross examined the witness, first asking about his personal details, his siblings, father’s profession, etc. Defense asked the witness how far his house was from CO office and the alleged place of incident. The Defense also asked questions about the alleged place from where Ekhlas was detained by the Razakars with the aim to cast doubt on his testimony by showing that he was not familiar with the CO office and or the alleged crime site. The Defense implied that the witness could not have been present when Ekhlas was detained.

The Defense next asked the witness numerous questions about Goods Hill and Akubdandi, where Ekhlas resided in 1971, aiming to show that the witness was unfamiliar with those sites as well. Defense asked him whether he could name anyone still living who also attended the Janaza for Ekhlas. The Witness claimed that no one is left alive now. The Defense asked how old Ekhlas was in 1971 and where he studied at that time. They implied that the witness did not know the victim at all and was fabricating his testimony. The witness answered that Ekhlas was 16 or 17 years of age and was a student of matriculation when he died. Mahmud affirmed his prior testimony that he saw Ekhlas being chased and subsequently detained by the Razakars, and that he witnessed the victim being taken to the CO office. Mahmud admitted that he did not witness Ekhlas being taken to Goods Hill from the CO office.

The Defense alleged that Mahmud’s courtroom testimony introduces new allegations not included in his original statement to the Investigating Officer. They alleged that he did not tell the Investigating Officerthat the alleged incident took place in front of the shop of Kokai or that he himself witnessed the alleged incident. The Defense claimed that the Pakistani Army detained Ekhlas while he was throwing grenade. The Defense also denied thatEkhlas jumped into the pond. They further asserted that the Razakars had not yet been formed in July 1971. The Defense also suggested that the Pakistani Army sent Ekhlas to Chittagong Medical College Hospital. The witness denied each of these assertions.

The Defense additionally asserted that in his initial interview the witness did not tell the Investigating Officer from whom he heard that Ekhlas was taken to Goods Hill. The witness answered that the Investigating Officer did not ask. The Defense also claimed that he did not originally allege that Razakars came out from CO Office and apprehended Ekhlas in Kadurkhil near the shop of Kokai, that Ekhlas jumped into a pond, or that Razakars took him to the Razakar camp located at the CO office. The Defense also stated the witness did not inform the Investigating Officer of the location of the victim’s burial site. The witness answered that he included all these details in his initial interview. The witness said he could not recall the specific date and month when Ekhlas was buried. He stated that he knew Salauddin Quader Chowdhury from 1971. The Defense claimed that in 1971 Salauddin was studying in Pakistan and could not have met Mahmud Ali. They also alleged that Mahmud never Ekhlas that he was giving false testimony in a false case for financial benefit. The witness denied these allegations.