26 June 2013: ICT-1 Daily Summary – Nizami PW 11, Chowdhury Rejection of Defense Applications

Today the Tribunal heard matters in the following cases:

  1. Chief Prosecutor vs. Motiur Rahman Nizami
  2. Chief Prosecutor vs. Salauddin Qader Chowdhury

In the Motiur Rahman Nizami case, the Defense conducted the cross-examination of the Prosecution Witness 11, Shamsul Haque alias Nannu. Nannu testified in support of charges 2 and 15. Thereafter, Tribunal adjourned the proceedings of the case until tomorrow, 27 June. In the Chowdhury case passed an order in response to the three Defense applications presented yesterday, 24 June 2013. The Tribunal was scheduled to continue hearing the testimony of Chowdhury, who took the stand as Defense witness 1. However, the Defense requested adjournment due to illness of the Accused. Thereafter, the Tribunal adjourned the proceedings of the case fixing 30 June 2013 for recording the testimony of the Defense witness.

Chief Prosecutor vs. Nizami
Cross-Examination of Shamsul Haque alias Nannu PW-11
The Defense asked the witness about Fozle Rabbi, his third father-in-law, and his political career. The witness answered that he was the General Secretary of Rajsahi District Awami League in 1960s. The Defense alleged that Fozle Rabbi was involved with the politics of the Muslim League and participated in the election as a candidate of Muslim League. The witness denied the suggestion. The Defense asked the witness about his education. Nannu replied that he passed SSC in 1968 from Sathia Pailot High School and Intermediate from Government Edward College. The Defense asked about the student leaders and political groups that were active at Edward College and whether he knew any members of the Islami Chhatro Shongho (student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami). The witness replied that Islami Chhatro Shongho conducted their party activities as an underground political party and that he cannot remember the names of any membesr except Abu Hanif. Nannu stated that Abu Hanif is alive but that he does not know where his is now.

During examination-in-chief, the witness alleged that Motiur Rahman Nizami, Maulana Ishaq, Maulana Sobhan, and Rafiqun Nabi alias Bablu were involved in numerous crimes. The Defense asked the witness numerous questions about Rafiqun Nabi alias Bablu, Maulana Ishaq and Motiur Rahman Nizami with the aim of showing that the witness was not actually familiar with them in 1971 and could not have identified them participating in crimes. The Charge Framing Order stated that Nizami in his early life studied in Boalmari Madrasa at Sathia and passed his Dakhil (equivalent to SSC) examination in 1955, subsequently passing his Alim (equivalent to HSC) in 1959. The Defense asked the witness when he first met or knew about Nizami. Nannu replied that he knew Nizami when Nizami was a student of Boalmari Madrasa. The Defense asked the witness what name he knew Nizami by while he was a  student of Boalmari The witness replied that Nizami was known both by the name of Nizami and Moti.

During the examination-in-chief, the witness testified that on 23 March 1971, under the leadership of the Chhatra League (student wing of Awami League), the Pabna District BLF (Bangladesh Liberation Force) was formed. The Defense alleged that during the last part of the Liberation War, under the initiative of Shirajul Alam Khan Dada Bhai and with the assistance of Oban, the BLA force was formed. The witness denied that claime. The Defense asked the witness numerous questions about the formation of BLA. The Prosecution objected, arguing that the questions were not related to the subject matter and that following Rule 53(2) the cross-examination is limited to the subject matter of the examination-in-chief of a witness.

The Defense then noted that the Charge Framing Order stated that in his historic speech of 7 March 1971, Banghabondhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman called on the people of Bangladesh to struggle for freedom and independence if the people’s election verdict was not respected and power was not handed over to the leader of the majority. The Defense asked the witness whether the Awami League gave any explanation later on about the speech given by Banghabondhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on 7 March 1971. The Prosecution again objected to the question citing Rule 53(2). The Prosecution argued that the question is a matter of history and the Defense should not be allowed to question historical aspects. The Defense argued that they should be allowed to question each and every word of the formal charge. The Tribunal sustained the Prosecution’s objection and did not allow the question.

The Defense next asked Nannu whether he had seen any news in any newspaper regarding the meeting of any leader of Islami Chhatra Shangho or Jamaat-e-Islami with the then government or their representative between 7 March and 25 March 1971. The witness replied that he had seen such news in the Don newspaper, an English newspaper published from Karachi, Pakistan. The Defense asked the witness where the meeting took place and who was present. Nannu replied that he cannot remember where the meeting took place but testified that Sayed Abul Ala Moududi was present on behalf of Jamaat-e-Islami , and Motiur Rahman Nizami was present on behalf of Islami Chhatra Shangho.  The Defense then asked the witness whether he had seen any news in any newspaper saying that in March 1971 Moududi visited Dhaka or that Nizami went to Pakistan. Witness stated that he could not recall.

The Defense then asked the witness about the office of the Islami Chhatra Shangho in 1971, President and Secretary of the Islami Chhatra Shangho in 1971 and the Razakar forces.

The cross-examination is scheduled to continue tomorrow.

Chief Prosecutor vs. Chowdhury
After the arrival of the accused in the premises of the Tribunal Defense counsel informed the Tribunal that Salauddin Qader Chowdhury was brought to the Tribunal on a stretcher and requested that he receive urgent medical care. At that time Tribunal was hearing the cross-examination of the Nizami case and continued with the proceedings. Chowdhury’s Defense counsel waited for a while and then again made his request regarding the same matter. The Chairman became annoyed and stated that it is a matter for the registrar and that the registrar would take care of it. After the lunch break, the Defense for Salauddin Qader Chowdhury submitted that the Accused was not feeling well and that as a patient of heart disease he needed proper medical care. The Tribunal asked the Defense to present Salauddin Qader Chowdhury before the Tribunal. He was brought to the courtroom in a wheelchair. The Tribunal asked the Prosecutor to talk with Chowdhury regarding his physical condition. The Prosecutor spoke with the Accused who stated that he was experiencing pain. The Tribunal then called the attendant who had accompanied Chowdhury from the jail to the Tribunal. The attendant informed the Tribunal that Chowdhury had not complained about any pain while he was in the jail or on his way to Tribunal.

The Tribunal disposed of the three Defense applications submitted the day before, but did not require Chowdhury to continue his testimony.

The Tribunal passed an order rejecting all three petitions. They stated that the Defense did argue on any new grounds in support of their application for review of the order limiting the Defense to 5 witnesses. They directed the Defense to submit the names of witnesses to be called, if any, by tomorrow, 27 June 2013. The Tribunal further said that if the Defense failed to do so they would assume that they did not intend to call any Defense witnesses. Regarding the second application requesting adjournment of the case until the Appeals Court has disposed of the amicus curiae being submitted regarding the retroactivity of amendments to the ICT Act, Tribunal stated that they cannot adjourn on this basis and therefore rejected the petition summarily. For the third application, requesting that Seizure list Serial No. 31 be declared illegal, the Tribunal ruled that the petition did not specifically mention the number of the exhibit in question and described the petition as vague. The Tribunal further stated that documents which have already been exhibited cannot be declared illegal. Thereafter, Tribunal adjourned the proceedings of the case until 30 June 2013.