Today the Tribunal heard matters in the following cases:
- Chief Prosecutor vs. Motiur Rahman Nizami
- Chief Prosecutor vs. Salauddin Qader Chowdhury
In the Nizami case, the Defense continued their cross-examination of Prosecution witness 12, Ratindra Nath Kunda, who testified in support of Charges 1 and 10. The Tribunal then adjourned the proceedings of the case until 10 July 2013.
In the Chowdhury case, the Tribunal heard the examination-in-chief of Nizam Ahmed, Defense witness 2. The Prosecution then began their cross-examination and sought time for preparation, alleging that they were not informed earlier that Defense is going to produce this witness today. The case was then adjourned until tomorrow, 9 July 2013.
Chief Prosecutor vs. Nizami
Cross-Examination of PW 12
The Defense asked Ratindra how he first became aware of Nizami. The witness replied that he first heard about Nizami when he (the witness) was a student of Edward College. The Defense asked the witness about Nizami’s village home in 1971 and whether the witness ever visited that home. They also asked about Nizami’s education. The witness replied that he did not visit Nizami’s home and that he heard that Nizami was a student of a Madrassa located at Atghatia. He could not say in which class Nizami took admission at that Madrassa. During examination-in-chief the witness claimed that Anil left Shonatola for Nilphamari out of fear of Nizami after the death of Banghabondhu on 15 August 1975. The Defense claimed that Anil’s father moved to Nilphamari before the 1970’s. The witness denied this. The Defense claimed that the witness never saw the said sister, brother-in-law or nephew of Nizami, which Ratindra admitted. The Defense claimed that the witness did not personally see Nizami before the election of 1986. The witness replied that he had seen Nizami before 1970.
The Defense asked the witness who the Secretary of the Peace Committee was for Pabna. The witness replied that he does not remember. The Defense asked about Moulana Kasim Uddin, including how long the witness knew him and about his training program. The witness replied that first met Uddin when the witness was in class three, and added that Uddin was his teacher and trained the freedom fighters to use the 303 Rifle and was a good cadet.
The Defense asked the witness where he first heard that Nizami was the founder of Al-Badr. The witness replied that he had seen such news in the daily Ittefaq and the daily Shangram published in 1971 but cannot say whether it was before or after his visit to the India. The Defense also asked the witness about the Bangladesh Liberation Force, but the witness claimed to have no knowledge of that entity.
The Defense claimed that the witness in his initial interview did not tell the Investigation Officer that Baten was detained as part of a plan of revenge for the killing of Nizami’s nephew. They further claimed that the witness did not allege to the Investigation Officer that his school friend Showpon informed him that Nizami and Pakistani Army members took away their teacher Moulana Kasim Uddin by jeep. Finally the Defense alleged that the witness did not tell the Investigation Officer that Nil’s house was looted and burned in May of 1971. Ratindra denied all of these allegations. The Defense claimed that Ratindra provided this false testimony because he is a government officer and supports the government agenda against the Accused. The witness denied the allegation.
Chief Prosecutor vs. Chowdhury
Defense witness 2, Nizam Ahmed, testified that Quayyum Reza Chowdhury (one of the five DWs) was his school friend and that he introduced him to Salauddin Qader Chowdhury when the witness was a student at Notre Dame College during the 1967-68 session. Nizam further testified that Salman Fazlur Rahman (one of the five DWs) is the cousin of Qayyum Reza Chowdhury, who is the cousin of Salauddin Qader Chowdhury. Nizam testified that all of them were good friends and spent a great deal of time together.
The witness stated that they took admission in Dhaka University for the 1968-69 session and at that time Salauddin Qader Chowdhury resided in Dhanmondi. Nizam stated that he, Salman Fazlur Rahman, Qayyum Reza Chowdhury and Salauddin Qader Chowdhury all participated in the mass movement of 1969. He verified Chowdhury’s testimony in stating that when Asad was shot, they were all present and Nizam himself was 2 feet away from Asad.
The witness asserted that in the evening on 25 March 1971 they, along with Aminul Huq Badsha, the press secretary for Bangabondhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, went to the Hotel Intercontinental to distribute press releases among the foreign journalists. Nizam testified that at 10:30 pm the Pakistani Army informed them that no one would be allowed to go outside of the hotel. Therefore they stayed there until the morning of 27 March 1971. Nizam stated that in the morning when the curfew was withdrawn he left the hotel for Dhanmondi, Qayyum for Moghbazar and Badsha went into hiding. Nizam testified that later on his family moved to his aunt’s house at Eskaton. Nizam testified that on 28 March 1971 he and Qayyum took shelter in the house of a Swedish family which was just 2 roads away from the house of Salauddin Qader Chowdhury. He said that they stayed there 4 or 5 days. Qayyum was good at speaking Urdu and used to go outside with the car. One day Qayyum met with Sheikh Kamal (the son of Bangabondhu) and brought him to the Swedish house. The witness further alleged that Kamal lived with them for 3 days. Additionally, while they were residing with the Swedish family Qayyum informed him that he had driven Salauddin Qader Chowdhury to the airport and arranged a taxi for Kamal to go to Aricha Ghat. He testified that having failed to reach Aricha, Kamal came back to the Swedish house. In the meantime, the witness stated that the Swedish family was asked by the Pakistani government to leave the country. He testified that the Swedish family took them to the rented house of Qayyum’s sister and left them there along with food supplies. Nizam testified he, Kamal, and Qayyum stayed at that house for 3 or 4 days before leaving for his aunt’s house at Eskaton.
Nizam then testified that with the intention of going to Germany he flew to Karachi on the 7th of 8th f April. He stated that Qayyum and Salman were on the same flight. He testified that they went to the Salman’s house in Karachi where after one or two days Salauddin Qader Chowdhury came to meet them. Nizam make it clear that when Salauddin Qader Chowdhury came to meet with them Qayyum was not at Salman’s home. Nizam testified that after that he again met with Salauddin Qader Chowdhury in April or May of 1974 at the Purbani Hotel in Dhaka. He stated that between 1971 and 1974 he did not meet with Salauddin Qader Chowdhury. He testified that from Karachi they went to Islamabad and that in Islamabad Qayyum was arrested. He returned to Dhaka. Nizam testified that in the early June he left the country for India via Comilla.
The Prosecution said that the witness during his examination-in-chief did not say about his profession. The witness admitted that and asked the Prosecution whether he can say about his profession now. Then, the Prosecution replied that now it is not necessary. The Prosecution asked the witness whether he had any National ID card or passport with him now. The witness replied that he has his passport but that he did not bring them to the Tribunal. The Prosecution then requested adjournment, stating that they had not been aware that the witness would be produced today and that they needed additional time for preparation.
Courtroom Dynamics and Administrative Notes
At the beginning today’s proceedings, the Prosecution drew the Tribunal’s attention to a news report published in the daily Prothom Alo. The news report said that Fakhrul Islam, the Defense Counsel of Salauddin Qader Chowdhury, asked for an adjournmen in another Court, mentioning that the judges of the ICT do not consider the personal difficulties of the lawyers.