30 June 2013: ICT-1 Daily Summary – ATM Azharul Islam Pre-Trial, Chowdhury Testimony as DW 1

Today the Tribunal heard matters in the following cases:

  1. Investigation of ATM Azharul Islam
  2. Chief Prosecutor vs. Salauddin Qader Chowdhury

In the ongoing investigation of ATM Azharul Islam , the Prosecution submitted its progress report and requested an additional two weeks time for submission of the Formal Charge. The Tribunal granted the request and scheduled the next hearing for 15 July 2013. In the Chowdhury case the Tribunal heard the ongoing testimony of the Defendant, Salauddin Qader Chowdhury, who testified as Defense witness 1 for the seventh day. They then adjourned the proceedings until 1 July 2013. 

Examination-in-Chief of Salauddin Qader Chowdhury –DW 1
Chowdhury testified that from 1966 till 1971 he was a resident of Dhaka. His Dhaka residence was essentially his own establishment and was a social hub for his College and University friends. He testified that his father visited Dhaka once or twice a month and rarely stayed more than two or three days each time, while and he himself visited Chittagong during this period only for family occasions.

Chowdhury stated that his father was deeply attached to Chittagong. In contrast, the witness testified that since 1960 when he joined the East Pakistan Cadet College (now Fauzdarhat Cadet College), except for a period of four months at the end of 1965 and early 1966 when he took SSC examination, he (the witness) never resided at his family home in Goods Hill, Chittagong. He asserted that his social relationships in Chittagong were all formed after 1974. Chowdhury testified that Goods Hill is his family home, but that it was not his permanent residence between 1960 and 1974. He testified that his name does not appear in any business enterprise in Chittagong prior to 1974, and that it only appears officially as an income tax assessee in 1957 because of income he inherited property from his mother who died in 1956.

The witness testified that between 1965 and 1969 his father served as an independent Member of the National Assembly and was in close association with anti-Ayub movement.  During this period he claimed that his father’s associates were not supporters of the Muslim League. Chowdhury stated that he was never a member of any student political organization during his career, although he actively participated in the anti-Ayub movement along with his friends in 1969. Chowdhury claimed that he was only ten feet away from Asad when he was killed in front of Dhaka medical college in 1969. The witness testified that during this period Mr Tawhid Samad, currently Chairman of IUB, Mr Ahmed Salman Fazlur Rahman (one of five DWs), Sheikh Kamal, Anwar Hossain Monju, Mr Nizam Ahmed (one of five DWs), Mr Khairul Basher, Mr Irfan Khan, Imran Ahmed, Kazi Anwar, Abdus Samad, Qayyum Reza Chowdhury (one of five DWs) and many more regularly met at his house in Dhanmondi. He stated that seniors like Anwar Hossain Monju invited their contemporaries like Mr Abdul Rouf, President of Students League, Mr Tofael Ahmed V.P of DUCSU, Mr Khaled Mohammod Ali, Mr Sirazul Alam Khan, Abdul Kuddus Makhon, and Shahjahan Siraj to meet at Chowdhury’s house in pursuit of that movement. He claimed that his role in those meetings of seniors was limited to offering the hospitality of his house and the convenience of his car. He further testified that many of these leaders met his father Fazlul Qader Chowdhury on a number of occasions.

The witness testified that he along with his friends of student league and East Pakistan student union were active participants of the Grand Rally at the Dhaka race-course field on 7 March 1971, where the Late Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was first called “Bangabondhu” at the proposal of Mr Tofael Ahmed, VP of DUCSU. The witness testified that the rally was in protest of Yahya Khan’s cancelation of the recent elections and his refusal to convene the National Assembly under the majority winner, the Awami League. Chowdhury testified that in Bangabondhu’s historic speech he laid out the aspirations of the people of East Pakistan and expressed his expectations as Prime Minister-elect of Pakistan and threatened a movement of non-cooperation by the people of East Pakistan if they were denied their rights as established by the results of the 1970’s General Elections.

CHowdhury stated that his active participation at the historic rally can be corroborated by numerous individuals in the current political arena including Sheikh Fazlul Karim Salim, Mr Tofael Ahmed, Monirul Haque Chowdhury, Nure Alam Siddiquee, Shahjahan Siraj, Salman F Rahman (one of the five DWs), Khairul Basher, Nizam Ahmed (one of the five DWs), Qayyum Reza Chowdhury (one of the five DWs), Dr Belal Baaqui, Tawhid Samad and many others. The witness testified that if the speech of Bangabondhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is accepted as his Unilateral Declaration of Independence, then with all humility as an active participant and supporter of that rally he can legitimately claim to have been an active supporter for the cause of the Independence of Bangladesh.

At this point the Prosecution objected to the statement. The Tribunal overruled them and did not record the sentence with their objection. Chowdhury testified that his father’s meeting with Bangabondhu between 7 March 1971 and 22 March 1971, well publicized in the media, and also the fact that Bangabondhu was named as a Defense Witness in the case against his father in 1972 (where he faced charges of collaboration), established the fact that his father was totally committed to the cause of East Pakistan in the person of Bangabondhu as Prime Minister-elect of Pakistan. Again the Prosecution objected, saying that the Defense did not submit any documents in support of this claim and requested that the Tribunal record this sentence with objection. The Tribunal did so.

Before the lunch break, the witness submitted that his physical condition is poor, and requested an adjournment of the case. The Tribunal asked him to finish his testimony within the next session and adjourned the proceeding of the case for the day.