Today the Tribunal heard matters in the following cases:
Chief Prosecutor vs. Abdul Alim
The Defense conducted the cross-examination of Prosecution witness 23. The Prosecution conducted the examination-in-chief on 9 June 2013.
Cross Examination of PW 23
Mr Mohammmad Abdul Hye, the brother of victim Fazlu, testified as Prosecution witness 23, providing circumstantial evidence. The Defense asked the witness various questions about his family, education and background. The witness stated that his date of birth is listed on his Secondary School Certificate as 6 October 1950 and that he regularly reads newspapers. He stated that two of his other brothers are living: Abdur Razzak Mondon and Aini Iliyas. He stated that Aini Iliyas is a journalist who used to work for the English daily newspaper, the Bangladesh Observer. He stated that his mother died two years ago.
The Defense asked the witness about the formation and conduct of the Central Peace Committee. He stated that he does not remember when Central Peace Committee was formed but that it was probably in the beginning of April of 1971. In 1971, he stated that the Convention Muslim League, Council Muslim League, Karijum Muslim League were the existing religious political parties. He did not remember precisely who the head of Convention Muslim League was, but stated that it was probably Fazlul Qadir Chowdhury. He said that Khwaza Khoyer Uddin was part of the Muslim League but he did not remember which specific group he belonged to.
The witness stated that the local Peace Committee in Jaipurhat was formed towards the end of April 1971 after the Pakistani Army occupied Jaipurhat. Upon the Defense’s suggestion that there were no Rajakar forces in Jaipurhat prior to 2 August 1971, the witness said he did not know. The witness also said that he is not aware whether Yahya Khan of Pakistan confiscated the funds or assets of Convention Muslim League.
The witness was then asked how many times he visited Jaipurhat Sadar Road, to which he replied that went there many times in his life. He described the road, saying that there were many lanes alongside the road and the lane that the witness claims to have gone into hiding after seeing the truck of Pakistani army on the day of the alleged incident is called Amtoli Lane. He stated that there were not many shops around that lane during the 1971 period.
Hye testified that his home is located 7/8 km south-east of Paharpur. Goyeshpur is located in Naogaon District and is 4/5 km away from Paharpur. The witness said he did not run any business during the war and did not have any close relatives or anyone else there. Hye stated that his father was not a supporter of Pakistan in 1971 and claimed that all three of his brothers supported independence. He said his brother Iliyas was very young, while his brother Fazlu was 15 or 16 years old and a student of Class 10.
On 8th of October, 1971, he stated that 40/50 people were present during the alleged “hate-speech” delivered by the Accused in front of the CO (Dev) Office. The witness denied the Defense’s suggestion that it would have been impossible for him to see the incident on Sadar Road from his hiding place down the side lane. The witness stated that he did not have any photograph of himsekf in 1971 and did not know Mutasim Billa (PW-22) in 1971. He also said he did not know who the CO (Dev) was at that time or who resided at the house next to it.
The witness claimed that Abul Hossain died one ago and that he had been a freedom fighter. He claimed that Hossain had children but the witness was not acquainted with them. In reply to the Defense’s questioning the witness said that Alim was not in a commanding position but that he advised the Pakistani Army nonetheless. The Defense claimed that the Pakistani Army did not take advice from civilians while conducting operations in war. The witness responded that no war took place in 1971, that only rape, genocide and Crimes Against Humanity were committed. Hye denied that Alim was not leading civil forces with the Pakistani Army and that Alim did not advise or lead them to commit rape and murder. The witness also denied the Defense’s claim that Alim did not form Peace Committee.
The Defense alleged that the witness never lived in Goyeshpur and that the incident of his brother being taken to the Pakistani Army camp is fabricated. They alleged instead that his brother died in a confrontational between the Pakistani Army and the freedom fighters. They asserted that Alim was not affiliated with his death. As a reference, the Defense submitted a leaflet called “Jader Roktey Mukto ei Desh” (In whose blood this country is free) that has been distributed by the brother of the Accused, detailing how Fazlu died. The Defense claimed that the witness’ testimony was entirely untrue, including his claim that he received a photograph of detainees in the army camp from Abul Hossain. The Defense concluded the cross-examination by saying that the witness provided fabricated evidence with malicious intention and that he had been coached by the Prosecution.
At one point in the cross-examination the Defense counsel Tajul Islam and the judges engaged in an argument. Defense attorney Tajul Islam argued with one of the judges following his verbal intervention, claiming that the judges were disrupting the cross-examination through their interruptions. The counsel was warned for his demeanor, which the judges found unacceptable and intentionally adversarial. The Tribunal stated that such conduct would not be overlooked by the Tribunal in the future.