18 July 2013: ICT-2 Daily Summary – Ashrafuzzaman Khan and Chowdhury Mueen Uddin Cross-Examination PW-2, Investigation of Syed Mohammad Qaisar, Pre-trial AKM Yusuf

Today a nation-wide hartal was called in response to the conviction and sentencing of Ali Ahsan Mohammed Mujahid. Our coverage of today’s proceedings are therefore gathered from media sources as well as from conversations with the Prosecution and Defense.

Today the Tribunal heard matters in the following cases:

  1. Chief Prosecutor vs. Ashrafuzzaman Khan and Chowdhury Mueen Uddin, in absentia
  2. Investigation of Syed Mohammad Qaisar
  3. Pre-trial Stage of AKM Yusuf Case

Continuing where they left of on 16 July in the Ashrafuzzaman Khan and Chowdhury Mueen Uddin case, the Tribunal heard the cross-examination of Prosecution witness 2, Asif Munir. The witness is the son of Professor Munir Chowdhury, who was killed as part of the Bangladeshi intellectual community in December of 1971. He was cross-examined by the two state appointed defense attorneys: Mr Shukur Khan who is representing Ashrafuzzaman Khan and Ms Tuny who is representing Chowdhury Mueen Uddin.

The Tribunal also directed the Prosecution to submit a progress report on the investigation into suspect Syed Mohammad Qaisar. They scheduled the report for 13 August 2013. Qaisar, an former state Minister in President Ershad’s cabinet, has been in police custody since 21 May 2013 for his alleged involvement in atrocities committed during the 1971 independence war.

In the pre-trial proceedings against AKM Yusuf the Tribunal granted a Defense application for additional time and adjourned the proceedings of the case until 22 July 2013.

Chief Prosecutor vs. Ashrafuzzaman Khan and Chowdhury Mueen Uddin
Cross-Examination of Prosecution Witness 2
The witness Asif Munir previously testified that his father was abducted by Al-Badr men from their house in Central Road, Dhaka on 14 December 1971, just two days prior to Bangladesh’s victory against the Pakistan. He also claimed that his father was targeted because of his vocal opposition to the then Pakistani government’s anti-Bengali stance. He described how his father was abducted from their Central Road house and said that he learned the details of the incident from his mother, brother and a paternal uncle, all of whom witnessed the incident first hand.

Asif Munir that at around 1 p.m. on the day of the incident someone knocked at the door. The witness’s mother saw from the window that a microbus was standing in front of their house. The vehicle was covered with tree branches on its roof and covered with mud.  A few young men got out of the car and came to their gate, where they were met by the witness’ uncle, Mr Shamsher Chowdhury Rusho. The men asked Mr. Shamser  if he was Munir Chowdhury. The uncle said no and went back to the house where he informed the victim Munir that they were seeking him. Munir then went down to the ground floor to meet the men. The witness then said that he was told that his father was forced into the microbus at gunpoint after a heated exchange of words. The witness’s mother and brother, Mishuk Munir, witnessed the incident from the first floor. The witness stated he only four years old at that time.

After independence the family of the witness who saw the incident became sure that Ashrafuzzaman and Mueen Uddin were both directly involved in the abduction upon seeing the photographs of the perpetrators published in a newsreport in the Daily Purbadesh. They recognized the photographs of the two accused as being amongst those youths who abducted the victim. The newspapers alleged that these men were directly involved in the killing of many other Bengali intellectuals.

The witness further stated that he later coincidentally met one Mr Delwar Hossain who was similarly picked up by Al-Badr men in December, 1971. Delwar told him that he heard the name of Munir Chowdhury and saw him amongst those who were detained and tortured in the Al-Badr concentration camp in Mohammadpur Physical Training Institute.

The witness stated that his brother also gave similar description in his statement given to the Investigation Officer of the case, before his early demise in a tragic road accident on 13 August 2011.