9 July 2013: ICT-2 Daily Summary – Alim Application for Admission of Statements under Section 19(2)

Today due to scheduled vacation our researcher was unable to attend proceedings. The following coverage was gathered from media sources.

The Tribunal heard matters in the following cases:

  1. Chief Prosecutor vs. Abdul Alim

The Tribunal heard an application from the Prosecution requesting that statements previously made by a few witnesses to the Investigation Officer be admitted into evidence under Section 19(2) of the ICT Act. Section 19(2) allows for unsworn statements made by witnesses to the Investigation Officer to be admitted where the witness is deceased or unavailable. The Prosecutor informed the Tribunal that four Prosecution Witnesses who were supposed to testify against Abdul Alim have been “missing” since May 2013. The witnesses who cannot be found are Mr Nurul Islam, Mr Abul Khayer Sarkar, Mr Fazlur Rahman and Mr Matiur Rahman. The Tribunal rejected the application, stating that admitting the statements would not be lawful and would have prejudicial effect against the accused as the defense would be deprived of the right to cross-examine the missing witnesses.

The rejection of the application is out of step with the Tribunal’s previous decisions. Previously, the Tribunal has accepted the similar requests from the Prosecution with regard to five other prosecution witnesses who were also unavailable to give testimony. Two, ,Mr Dulu Talukdar and Akramuddin died in 2011; two others, Mr Shirajul Haque and Shamsul Huda Chowdhury, are physically unfit to give testimony before the tribunal and one Krishna Kumar Bajla, currently resides in India where his wife is receiving medical treatment. The Tribunal noted that it would not be unjust to allow the statements of the deceased and witnesses who are unavailable due to illness or for being out of the country be considered as evidence, as their case is distinct from the ones who are merely suspected of being missing.

 The Defense counsel Mr. Tajul Islam objected regarding the acceptance of the statements of the two deceased witnesses, stating that the two died long before submission of the witness list. The Defense accused the Prosecution of intentionally keeping the names of those two witnesses on the list despite knowing about their death. However this argument did not change the Tribunal’s conclusion.