Today the Tribunal heard matters in the following cases:
- Pre-trial stages against AKM Yusuf
- Chief Prosecutor vs. Abdul Alim
In the pre-trial proceedings against AKM Yusuf the Tribunal passed an order stating that it would begin hearing the charges against the accused. Defense counsel Tajul Islam informed the Tribunal that they had only just received the AKM Yusuf’s brief and requesting additional time to prepare upon receiving client instruction. The Tribunal then scheduled the Charge Hearing for 14 July 2013. AKM Yusuf, a Jamaat-e-Islami political leader, was arrested on 12 May 2013. Tribunal 1 initially took cognizance of the allegations against Yusuf, and the case was then transferred to Tribunal 2.
The Tribunal then turned to the Alim case where they allowed the Defense to recall Prosecution witness 11 for cross-examination. The initial examination-in-chief of Prosecution witness 11 was conducted in the absence of Defense counsel. The Defense had requested an adjournment on several occasions (17, 25, and 27 February 2013) due to the inability of the defense counsel to attend the court proceedings for miscellaneous reasons. The Tribunal denied these applications and allowed the examination-in-chief of the witness to take place without Defense presence. The witness has been recalled based on a defense application arguing that recalling the witness was necessary for the interest of justice.
Abdul Alim Prosecution Witness 11 Cross-Examination
The Defense’s cross-examination aimed at undermining the reliability of the evidence and the credibility of the witness. In particular, they implied that the witness could not have identified Alim as being connected with the alleged charges and that he did not know Alim during the war. They alleged that the witness was not even in Bangladesh.
The witness stated that he has 3 brothers and 4 sisters and they all lived together in the same house in 1971. He does not know when the Pakistani Army invaded Jaipurhat. He stated that he did not go to Jaipurhat Sadar road during the 1971 war and also never went to Alim’s house before or during war or during the war. He stated that he was unable to remember when the Pakistani Army first entered in Khetlal area and could not say if there was an Army Brigade headquarters in Khetlal. The witness further stated that he does not know how many army camps were there but heard that there was one army camp, though he could not say where it was located.
The Defense asked the witness how many members there were in the Jaipurhat Peace Committee or who its secretary was at that time. He said that probably someone named Abdul Sardar was the Chairman of Khetlal Peace Committee, but he could not name the the Secretary. He said he did not know how many members were in the Jaipurhat Peace Committee. The witness stated that the house of Saidur Rahman, who he had referred to in his previous testimony, is located in Mandal Para about 300 yards south-west of the witness’ house. He testified that he did visit Saidur Rahman’s house before the war of liberation. The witness testified that Saidur Rahman had 4 brothers and 1 sister and his father is the late Esharat Ullah Mandal.
The witness stated that he studied at Kalai Moinuddin High School, whose Principal was Qazi Talibur Rahman. His confirmed his date of birth (as it appears on his SSC certificate) as 1 July 1955. He said he was not a voter during the 1970 General Election. The witness acknowledged that he did not file a case regarding the murder of his family but said he was not sure whether anyone else from his family filed a case. The Defense noted that the late Badol’s brother, Biswanath Dev, filed a case against 6 persons in 1972. They suggested that the witness was intentionally pretending not to know about this case because Abdul Alim is not accused in that case. The witness denied the suggestion.
The witness then stated that he was not present during the meeting between Alim, other Peace Committee members and Major Afzal. He claimed that he did not know whether there were news reports about the meeting.
The witness said he did not show to the Investigation Officer the bush where the alleged incident took place. He described the area around his house. He stated the distance between his house and Hazunza Har is about 2 to 2.5 km. There are two villages in between, Harunza Hat to Khetlal is 3 to 4 Km of distance. There is a mosque in the South-West of the witness’s house after which there lies a Hindu village.
The witness acknowledged that he does not have any documentary evidence to show that Alim was the Chairman of local Peace Committee or a Rajakar member, but he reiterated that he had heard that Alim held those positions. He denied that Abbas Ali Khan was the actual Chairman. The witness said that he does not know whether the Razakars had a uniform or dress code. He denied the Defense’s suggestion that there was no bush near his house in 1971 and that he was not actually in Bangladesh at the time. He said that he does not know about any village named Turipara near Alim’s house.
The Defense alleged that the witness is providing fabricated evidence before the Tribunal at the instruction of the Hindu-Buddhist-Christian Unity Council. The judges objected and stated that this suggestion would not be recorded as it is aggravating towards religious groups. The Defense also alleged that Alim was in hiding during the war.