1 July 2013: ICT-1 Daily Summary – AKM Yusuf Pre-Trial, Chowdhury Testimony DW 1

Today the Tribunal heard matters in the following cases:

  1. 1.     Charge Framing Order against AKM Yusuf
  2. 2.     Chief Prosecutor vs. Salauddin Qader Chowdhury

In the AKM Yusuf case, today was fixed for hearing on charge framing. However, the Tribunal heard an application filed by the Prosecution requesting that the case be transferred to Tribunal 2 for speedy disposal. The Prosecution submitted that the number of cases pending before Tribunal 2 is less than Tribunal 1. The Defense submitted that Mizanul Islam is conducting this case, and as he is usually transported by wheelchair, he would face significant difficulty in attempting to enter into Tribunal 2 (the room for Tribunal 1 is much larger than Tribunal 2). The requested that the Tribunal keep the case in Tribunal 1. After hearing both the sides, Tribunal granted the application and transferred the case to Tribunal 2.  The Tribunal then moved to the Chowdhury case, in which the Defendant testified for the eight day. The Tribunal then adjourned the proceedings of the case until tomorrow, 2 July 2013.

Chief Prosecutor vs. Chowdhury
Chowdhury testified that during the previous day’s testimony he had made an error recollecting the date when Mr Tofael Ahmed coined the title of ‘Bangabondhu’ for the late Sheikh Mujibor Rahman. He testified that this was possibly done at another rally in the same venue in 1969 after the release of Banghabondhu from the Agortola Conspiracy case, an event in which he also claimed to have participated. Chowdhury testified that he was born in 1949 and grew up in the environment of pervasive social, economic and political deprivation of East Pakistan, then ruled by an oligarchy of non Bengalis in the central government of Pakistan based in Pakistan. Chowdhury testified that in contrast, his father grew up in the social, economic and political deprivation experienced by Muslims of British India. Therefore he stated that it is natural that his father’s sensitivities and nostalgia were different from Chowdhury’s own beliefs.

Chowdhury stated that he left Dhaka for Karachi in the afternoon of 29 March 1971. His cousin and friend Qayyum Reza Chowdhury (one of the five DWs) took him to the Tejgaon Airport and he was received in Karachi by his school friend Muneeb Arjumand Khan, the private secretary of Mr Mahmoud Haroon. The witness testified that he stayed at the family home of Haroon, located at Seafield, Victoria Road, Karachi. He stayed in Karachi until approximately the third week of April 1971 and met several times with Yousuf Haroon during his visit. Chowdhury testified that Haroon owned the Dawn group of Publications. He stated that Mr Yousuf died in New York over a year ago, survived by his wife Pasha Haroon who is now a parapalegic. Mr Mahmood A Haroon passed away just over three years ago, and is survived by his daughter Mrs Amber Haroon, who sent a signed affidavit recording her recollections of the witness’ stay at Seafield, Karachi during the first three weeks of April 1971.

Chowdhury recounted that during his stay in Karachi he socialized with Mr Muneeb Arjumand Khan and Mr Mohammed Mian Soomro, both of whom have sent the witness their signed affidavits corroborating these meeting and expressed their intention to testify before this Tribunal as Defense Witness. However, they have not been allowed to depose as they were denied visas by the Bangladesh High Commission in Islamabad. Chowdhury stated that he also socialized with friends from Dhaka, including Mr Salman F Rahman (one of the five DWs), Mr Nizam Ahmed (one of the five DWs) , Mr Qayyum Reza Chowdhury (one of the five DWs), Mr Arif Jiwani, Mr Osman Siddique, and Mr Rezaur Rahman, all of whom had taken shelter in Karachi away from the horrors of Dhaka in April 1971.

Chowdhury stated that his friend Mr Osman Siddique, whose father was the Vice Chancellor, helped Chowdhury to get the necessary papers to transfer from Dhaka University. Chowdhury claimed he reached Lahore at the end of the 3rd week of April 1971 and stayed with Mr Ishaq Khan Khakwani at his house A-Azam, 7, Wahadat Colony Road, Lahore.  He joined the Department of Political Science at the New Campus of Punjab University in order to complete his final year of Honors. Chowdhury testified that he met with his friend Shamim Hasnain (one of the five DWs) whom he has known since 1966, who also joined Panjab University in May 1971. The witness testified that amongst the friends with whom he interacted during his stay in Lahore were Mr Riaz Noon, Mr Naeem Akhoond, Mohammed Mian Soomro. He further claimed that all of these witnesses sent signed affidavits of their recollections of the witness’ stay in Lahore during 1971. Chowdhury also stated that these individuals had expressed their intention to testify before the Tribunal as Defense witnesses, but they were also denied visas by the Bangladesh High Commission in Islamabad.

Chowdhury stated that he visited Multan to attend the engagement ceremony of his former classmate, Mr Nasir Khan Khakwani, in May 1971. During the months of June, July and August he claimed he was restricted to Lahore as his final examinations were in August. He further testified that he and Mr Shamim Hasnain spent a lot of time at the library of Punjab University.

After the lunch break, Chowdhury testified that he had invited Farhana Hussain and Mr Shamim Hasnain to join him on his trip to Multan late in the third week of May, but that they declined. He said that during his stay in Lahore he was visited by Salman F Rahman (one of the five DWs) three or four times.

 At the end of his examination in August 1971, Chowdhury stated that he and a group of his friends including Ishaq Khan Khakwani, Riaz Noon, Naeem Akhoond, Salman Rahman, Siddique Khan Kanju, Muneeb Arjumand Khan went to Murree and spent about three weeks in mountainous region of the Northern areas, including the Kaghan Valley. Chowdhury stated that his father came to Lahore on 8 October 1971 and stayed at Ambassador Hotel where he bid farewell to him on or around 10 October 1971. Chowdhury testified that that was the last time he saw his father.

Chowdhury testified that he, Ishaq Khan Khakwani, and Naeem Akhoond then planned to drive to London from Lahore. They drove from Lahore and stopped in Islamabad where they had lunch at his cousin/sister’s house. They reached Peshawar the same night and stayed with a school friend, Mr Masud Akhtar Afridi. Chowdhury testified that they crossed the Pakistan frontier at Torkham on 12 October 1971 and drove through Afganistan, Iran, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Austria, Germany, Holland and France, finally reaching London around the 2nd week of November. The witness testified that his friend Ishaq Khan and Naeem Akhoond left London after two weeks while he remained there and joined Lincoln’s Inn, on of the Inns of the Court of London where barristers are called to the Bar. The witness testified that he remained in the United Kingdom until April 1974.