19 May 2013: ICT-1 Daily Summary – PWs 37, 38 and 39

Today the Tribunal heard matters in the following cases: 

  1. Chief Prosecutor vs. Salauddin Qader Chowdhury

In the Chowdhury case the Tribunal heard the examination-in-chief of Chapala Rani, Prosecution witness-37; Md Ersadul Haque, Prosecution Witness-38 and Mollah Abdul Hye, Prosecution witness 39. Thereafter, Defense Counsel Ahsanul Huq Hena conducted cross-examination. After the conclusion of the cross-examination Tribunal adjourned the case until 21 May 2013.

Prosecution Witness 37
Chapala Rani, the sister-in-law of victims Beni Madhab and Tarapada and daughter of victim Shatish Paul, testified as Prosecution witness 37. She testified in support of Charge 6 which alleges that Salauddin Qader Chowdhury committed Genocide under section 3(2)(c )(i) and 3(2)(3)(ii), as well as deportation as a Crime Against Humanity under section 3(2)(a) of the ICT Act.

Chapala Rani, testified that a day before Chaitra Sankranti (last day of Bangla year) in 1971 the Pakistan Army raided their area. At that time she was inside her house. The Pakistani Army knocked on the door of every house and gathered the villagers on the bank of the pond, owned by Shatish Mohazon who is the brother of Khitish Mohazon. Chapala said she and the others were crying. Her brother-in-law Beni Madhab tried to reassure them, saying that the Chairman Makbul and Salauddin Qader Chowdhury were present. However, she said that at that moment they (she did not specify who) opened fire on the villagers. Chapala testified that she became unconscious and her brothers-in-law Beni Madhab and Tarapada and her father Shatish Paul died.

Chapala further testified that at 7 pm she regained consciousness hearing the crying of the people who were searching for corpses. She began to search for her husband. She testified that a Muslim neighbor helped her to find her husband and carry him, unconscious, to her house. When her husband regained consciousness she and he  went to a Muslim neighbor’s house where they stayed for 4 days.

Chapal clarified that it was about 5 pm when the Pakistani Army gathered them at the river. She testified that she saw Salauddin Qader Chowdhury at the site, but that of course at that time he was young. She identified Salauddin Qader Chowdhury in the dock. She further testified that the local people buried all of the corpses at the site of the alleged incident. She testified that she was previously interviewed by the Investigation Officer.

During the examination-in-chief the witness testified that her husband did not die on the date of the alleged incident. However, when questioned by the Defense she admitted that during her initial interview with the Investigation Officer she said that her husband was killed along with 60-70 others. The Defense asked the witness if she fled after the alleged incident or not. Witness answered that she did not flee. The Defense asked numerous questions about the Muslim family with whom the witness stayed, aiming to cast doubt on her version of events. The Defense then asked how many Pakistani Army raided the area during the incident. Chapal answered that more than 40 army personal were there.

The Defense claimed that during her initial interview the witness did not tell the Investigation Officer that Satish Mohazon is the relative of Khitish Mohazon. The Defense also asked the witness numerous questions about the doctor who allegedly treated her husband, trying to show that he not actually receive any treatment. The Defense alleged that the witness did not tell the Investigation Officer that Beni Madhab is her brother-in-law. The witness denied these allegations. The witness denied that she knows Bashanti Gosh (PW-32) and her husband Monoranjon Gosh (another victim of the alleged incident) but acknowledged that she knows Shujit Mohazon (PW-31).

The Defense asked whether the witness or her husband filed any legal complaint regarding the alleged incident. She answered that they did not. The Defense asked her about her husbands’ profession and his family, whether her brother-in-laws were married or not at the time of alleged incident. Witness answered that her husband was a potter and her in laws were married at that time.

The Defense alleged that the witness did not originally tell the Investigating Officer did that during the incident her brother-in-law Beni Madhab had tried to reassure her by saying that the Chairman Makbul and Salauddin Qader Chowdhury were present. They also claimed that she did not tell the Investigation Officer that she lost consciousness after the Army began firing, nor did she allege that her brothers-in-law Beni Madhab and Tarapada and her father Shatish Paul. The witness denied these allegations and asserted that she told all of these things to the Investigation Officer.  The Defense further claimed that the witness in her initial interview did not say that she saw Salauddin Qader Chowdhury at the scene of the alleged incident. The witness denied this allegation too.

The Defense concluded by claiming that the entire alleged incident did not take place. And stated that the witness was not present at the incident and did not see Salauddin Qader Chowdhury there. They alleged that the witness is providing false testimony because of the pressure and influence of the Hindu, Buddha, Christian Oikko Parishad.

Salauddin Qader Chowdhury asked the Tribunal for permission to ask three questions himself. The Prosecution opposed the request but the Tribunal granted him permission. The Accused asked the witness how she knew him in 1971, and whether she or her husband ever went to his house  to sell their goods or whether he ever visited the witness’ home place to buy the goods (she said that her husband was a potter in profession). Witness answered that neither she nor her husband went to his house and that she never saw him (Salauddin) visit their place to buy goods.

Prosecution Witness 38
Md Ersadul Haque testified regarding the Prosecution’s seizure of documents that have been admitted into evidence as exhibits.

Ersadul Haque testified that on 10 April 2011 the Investigation Officer, Md Nurul Islam, seized Volume-(i) and Volume- (ii) from the office of Mollah Abdul Hye and made a seizure list. He testified that he himself and his colleague Md Mizanul Islam signed the seizure list. He exhibited the seizure list as Exhibit-31. This seizure list is comprised of documents relating to six separate cases filed against Salauddin Qader Chowdhury under the Collaborators Act of 1972.

The Defense drew the witness’ attention to the result column of these 6 cases, noting that in all of these cases Salauddin is one many accused. Defense claimed that according to the Prosecution’s exhibits only one of these six cases was sent to the High Court Division due to Writ Petition, in two cases were discharged, and one other case was sent to the Special Tribunal for cognizance and trial  – dated 12 December 75. Two cases did not proceed any further.

Prosecution Witness 39
Mollah Abdul Hye testified regarding the Investigation Officer’s seizure of various documents from the Zilla Police Court of Chittagong.

Mollah Abdul Hye testified that on 11 April 2011 he worked as Inspector in the Zilla Police Court of Chittagong. He testified that the Investigation Officer from his office seized GRO(R)ctg Volumes 1 and 2. He exhibited the volumes as Exhibit-35. He testified that he brought these volumes with him in the Tribunal.

The Defense asked the witness when he began his work in Sylhet. He said that he began on 8 August 2011. The witness admitted that after his posting the volumes were in the Chittagong office and testified that Ersadul (PW-38) brought these volumes from the Chittagong office to the Tribunal. The Defense asked the witness whether any GD/ CC was filed regarding these volumes. The witness answered that he did not ask Ersadul (PW-38) about that. Finally, the Defense asked the witness whether he had any document to show that he handed over the volumes after his posting to Unogmo Chakma (who joined in his chair in Chittagong). Witness answered that at this moment he had no documents regarding this handover.