7 May 2013: ICT-2 Daily Summary –

Today the Tribunal heard matters in the following cases:

  1. Chief Prosecutor vs. Abdul Alim – PW 18
  2. Chief Prosecutor vs. Ali Ahsan Mohammed Mujahid  – Prosecution Closing Arguments   

 The Defense conducted the cross-examination of Prosecution Witness 18 Mostafizur Rahman, who completed his examination-in-chief yesterday in the cae of Abdul Alim a day earlier. The Defense highlighted contradictory statements between the witness’ courtroom testimony and his original statements to the Investigation Officer. Ultimately, the Defense alleged that the person giving testimony before the tribunal as Mostafizur is not the same person who gave statement to the Investigation Officer, and that the courtroom testimony is fabricated at the direction of the Prosecution.

After hearing the witness testimony in Alim’s case, the tribunal next heard the Prosecution’s Closing Arguments in the case against Ali Ahsan Muhammed Mujahid. The Prosecution began by outlining their arguments. A printed copy of the Structure/Outline of the prosecution summing up was submitted by the prosecution, which contained in its cover page the picture of a dog eating the dead body of an infant. The judges were critical of the use of the photo and stated that such pictures should not be included in the future as the judges are charged with evaluating the contents of the documents only. Such a photograph is therefore inappropriate and cover photo will not assist the court in any way and is also inappropriate.

Chief Prosecutor vs. Alim: Cross-Examination of Mostafizur Rahman
The Defense counsel then conducted the cross-examination of Prosecution witness 18 in the Alim case. They attempted to show the witness was not aware of the specific details of the incident, thereby undermining his testimony. They questioned his credibility both in terms of the evidence he provided regarding the incident and as to whether he is really Mostafizur Rahman. During cross-examination the witness admitted that Bazlar Rahman and Mahbubur Rahman are not brothers, but cousins. The witness denied that 26th May 1971 was a Tuesday and asserted that it was a Wednesday.

The Defense suggested that the witness had become a witness in many other cases. The witness denied this suggestion and stated that this is the first case in which he has appeared as a witness. The witness said that he does not know when in 1971 the Peace Committee was formed in Paanchbibi. He then also admitted that he did not know whether there were any Razakars in East Pakistan in May 1971.

However, despite the Defense’s questions and his lack of knowledge of these two groups he asserted that Alim was the head of the Razakars and the Peace Committee.

The witness then described the site of the alleged crime. He stated that his house is 9 or 10 km south from Jaipurhat. In 1971 bicycles and cow cart could be used along the roads there. He stated that Kli Shaha’s pond (where the killing of his father allegedly took place) is quite big. There is a rail line in the west of the pond and no houses in between. He again asserted that many had been buried therein. He stated that there was one house to the South of the pond where Kamal lived, unmarried. On the east of the pond, there was a road that was not used.

The witness stated that many in his village supported independence, but he did not know if there were any against it. He stated that Abul Kashem Sarder’s house is next to his house and that his children are living, but his brothers are deceased. He said that he does not know whether the other villagers knew that Kashem supported liberation, but he asserted that he knew that Kashem was in his side. He stated that he does not know who the local Chairman of the Peace Committee was in 1971.

Finally, the defense suggested that he did not give the original statement to the Investigating Officer. They alleged that he is posing as Mostafizur Rahman and that someone else gave the original statement. They accused him of presenting false evidence in support of mala fide prosecution.

Chief Prosecutor vs. Mujahid:

Prosecution Closing Arguments
Prosecutor Moklesur Rahman Badol began Closing Arguments with an of the Prosecution’s case against the Mujahid. He announced that they would first provide historical background and a detailed profile of Mujahid before discussing each of the charges and the defendant’s liability under the ICT Act.

Historical background relevant to the case
The Prosecution made a statement regarding the numerous sacrifices of freedom fighters and the nation as a whole. He discussed at length the history of Bangladesh’s struggle fo independence. He briefly referred to the general election of 1970, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s historic speech on 7th March, the killings carried out during Operation Search Light by the Pakistani Military on 25th March and the nine months of war that finally led to victory on 16th December.  The Tribunal at one point interjected to ask that the Prosecution not repeat the historical aspects in detail as it had already given its observation on the historical aspect of the cases in two of its previous judgments.

Profile of the Accused
The Prosecution presented a profile of Mujahid, including his family background, academic background and political career. They stated that Mujahid comes from a family of Jamaat-e-Islami supporters and that his father was also a political figure in Jamaat-e-Islami. Mujahid finished his Secondary School Certificate examination in the year 1964 and his Higher Secondary Certificate examination in the year 1966. He became active in politics during his under-graduation and was the Chairman of Faridpur district’s Islami Chatra Shangho (ICS), the then student wing of Jamaat-e-Islam, from 1968 until 1970. He graduated in the year 1970 and continued to serve in ICS’s Dhaka unit from January to July 1971. He was then elevated to General Secretary of ICS’s East Pakistan Unit in July 1971, before being appointed as its President in October. The Prosecution alleged that Mujahid went into hiding after the end of the war and only returned to politics of Jamaat-e-Islam Bangladesh long after the drastic political change following the assassination of the Bangabondhu Sheikh Mujib in 1975. He was never elected in any Parliamentary Election but nevertheless served as a Minister from 2001-2006 as a ‘Decorum Minister’ during the Four-party alliance government.

Pro-active role of the accused
The Prosecution submitted that the Jamaat party was effectively a terrorist organization during the War of Liberation. It formed and operated a killing squad called Al-Badr, that was mainly comprised of leaders and activists of the Islami Chatra Shangho (ICS). The Prosecution alleges that Mujahid acted as the Chief of this force and therefore is  responsible for the torture, rape and murder perpetrated by Al-Badr members. The Tribunal interjected and asked how Mujahid’s superior position could be deduced. The Prosecution replied that the documentary evidence submitted illustrates his leadership role within the force. They referred to Exhibit 1 series, containing newspaper reports, the first being the Daily Azad’s issue from 11 December 1971, which reported a speech of by  Mujahid addressing a rally organized for Al-Badr forces. Additionally the Prosecution noted that Prosecution Witness 2, Zahir Uddin Jalal also testified that he threw a grenade in that rally after hearing the speech. The prosecution submitted that the defense did not dispute the contents of the reports.

The Prosecution claimed that Mujahid publically and pro-actively encouraged the masses to support the Pakistani Army and to resist pro-liberation forces. They stated that he travelled, attending various conferences and giving Anti-Indian speeches to calling for the prevention of the tactics of Indian agents, miscreants and enemies of Pakistan. On 17 October 1971, he attended a conference in Rangpur and proposed that no one other than ICS members should be allowed to join Al-Badr forces. He then went to Bogura on 23 October, Magura on 24 October, and came back to Dhaka on 25 October 1971, attending campaigns and conferences designed to inspire Jamaat party supporters through Anti-Indian speeches and urging them to actively defend the unity of Pakistan against domestic and international forces. The Prosecution stated that Exhibits-17 and 18 support these allegations.

The Prosecution argued that Mujahid exercised top-tier authority over the Al-Badr auxiliary force. They claimed that Mujahid and others used cars and jeeps to patrol his region, even during curfews. They claimed that ICS became synonymous with the Al-Badr forces. They noted that Mujahid had made statements that books written by Hindu writers should be destroyed and the following day the library was burned. In a speech delivered on 7 November 1971, Mujahid made statements against India even though India had not formally intervened at that point. The Prosecution alleged that the term ‘India’ in that context was a euphemism for any person who supported an independent Bangladesh. The Prosecution referred to Exhibits 1 and 2 as containing supporting documents. Quoting from the book Al-Badr, the {rosecution counsel stated that even on 16th December 1971 Mujahid remained adamant about his position. In his speech as the ‘Nezam’ (urdu for Chairman/Head), he expressed his dissatisfaction with the surrender of the Pakistani Army, stating that they should have given the weapons to Al-Badr instead of surrendering them to enemy forces. The Prosecution asserted that Mujahid urged all the Al-Badr members present at that meeting to continue the mission and to spread out for ‘Hijra’ (migration in Islam). They concluded that all these facts specifically illustrate the stance and position Mujahid within Al-Badr and his role during 1971.

The Tribunal noted that it has already delivered its findings regarding the status and role of Al-Badr and would not deviate from the same save for minor matters without a differing decision from the high court.

The Prosecution then concluded for the day.