21 July 2013: ICT-2 Daily Summary – Contempt Proceedings, Ashrafuzzaman Khan and Mueen Uddin PW 3

21 July 2013: ICT-2 Daily Summary – Contempt Proceedings, Ahrafuzzaman Khan and Chowdhury Mueen Uddin PW 3

Today the Tribunal heard matters in the following cases:

  1. Contempt Proceedings against Prosecution Witness Jahir Uddin Jalal
  2. Chief Prosecutor vs. Ashrafuzzaman Khan and Chwodhury Mueen Uddin

Today the Tribunal heard ongoing arguments from both parties in the contempt proceedings against Prosecution witness Jahir Uddin Jalal, who allegedly assaulted defense counsel Mr Munshi Ahsan Kabir outside of the High Court. After consulting the victim of the alleged attack the Tribunal disposed off the matter with and order of caution to the contemnor.

The  Tribunal then moved to the Ashrafuzzaman Khan and Chowdhury Mueen Uddin case, in which the Prosecution called Prosecution witness 3 to testimony. State appointed defense attorneys Shukur Khan and Tuny will conduct the cross-examination of the witness on 23 July 2013.

Contempt Proceedings against Prosecution Witness Jahir Uddin Jalal
Defense attorney Tajul Islam submitted on behalf of the petitioner, fellow Defense attorney Munshi Ahsan Kabir, that the contemnor Jahir Uddin Jalal  is the most adverse and ill mannered of witnesses. He argued that this was not the first instance in whih Jalal showed such conduct towards defense counsel. Prior to physically assaulting Mr Munshi, the contemnor had previously verbally  attacked another Defense attorney outside the courtroom. Therefere Tajul Islam stated that toleration of the contemnor’s disrespect and attack on officers of the honorable court would create a negative precedent. He requested that the court punish the Prosecution witness accordingly.

Attorney Mansur Rashid, appearing on behalf of Jahir Uddin Jalal, submitted that the attack on a member of the honorable court was indeed a sad and despicable incident. He stated that he has the utmost sympathy for the assaulted member of the Bar and reiterated that the counsel is not disputing the incident of attack, but is merely denying the involvement of Jalal. The counsel stated that Jalal had submitted a sworn affidavit as an explanation and denial of involvement. Given the difficulty of proving for the Tribunal that it was in fact Jalal who attacked the Defense counsel, Jalal’s counsel proposed that the Tribunal dispose of the matter with an observation cautioning the Jalal about his conduct. The counsel submitted that this would be the most appropriate approach and would not be arbitrary in its treatment of either party.

The Tribunal asked the alleged victim, Munshi Ahsan Kabir, about his opinion regarding the suggestion to dispose of the matter with a warning to Jalal. Mr Munshi responded that he is a respectable lawyer of the bar and respects that it is entirely up to the court to decide what is best. The Tribunal then disposed off the contempt proceedings with the observation that attacks on counsel shall not be tolerated in the future; thus warning the Jalal and cautioning him regarding any similar instances in the future. The Tribunal observed that prolonging the instant contempt proceedings would only complicate matters to the detriment of all concerned.

Chief Prosecutor vs. Ashrafuzzaman Khan and Chowdhury Mueen Uddin
Examination-in-Chief of Prosecution Witness 3
Mr. Sumon Jahid  testified as Prosecution witness 3. He is a private service holder and the only son of the victim, journalist Selina Parveen.

The witness stated that he was only 8 years old during the War of Liberation in 1971 and resided in 115 New Circular Road, which has been subsequently renamed as Selina Parveen Road. His mother worked at a weekly newspaper named “Lolona” (Women), in its Advertisement Division. At the same time, she was also the Editor and Publisher of her own newspaper named “Shilalipi”. Many of her works were published in the Daily Ittefaq, Daily East Pakistan, Daily Purba Desh and Weekly Begum. She also worked as the assistant of journalist Noorjahan Begum, the Editor of weekly newspaper “Begum.”  The witness stated that his mother Selina Parveen was not a famous journalist herself, but that she was targeted by Al-Badr because many prominent pro-independence poets, authors, writers and journalists such as Professor Munir Chowdhury, journalist Shahidullah Kaisar, Jahir Raihan, ANM Golam Mostafa and others were regularly published by her newspaper.

On 13 December 1971, at around 1:30 p.m., the witness and one of his uncles were on the rooftop of their house while his mother was cooking. The witness stated that they saw that few cars stop in front of their house. This included one jeep and a military van behind it. Someone got out of the jeep and knocked at the collapsible gates of their house downstairs. Mr Salauddin, who was a Member of Parliament, used to reside in the flat next to that of the witness. He opened the gate and showed the intruders the flat of Selina Parveen after being asked where she lived. The witness testified that he then went downstairs and from the staircase he saw that these visitors were coming upstairs and talking to his mother. Seeing the witness and his uncle, the visiting men ordered them to put their hands up in the air and to come down to the 1st floor. They asked the witness’s uncle if he was a freedom fighter, in reply to which he said that he was a student.

The intruders told the witness’ mother, Selina Parveen, that she should go with them to the Secretariat. She declined, saying that she did not have a Curfew Pass and therefore would not be able to accompany them. They told her a Curfew Pass would not be necessary. They did not allow her to change her Sari and tied her hands and blindfolded her using a piece of cloth. They then took her to the car and went away. She never returned.

On 17 December 1971, Mr Shamsher Chowdhury, who is the brother of victims Munir Chowdhury and Kabir Chowdhury, informed the witness’s uncle that Selina Parveen’s dead body has been found in a mass grave at Rayer Bazar. She was buried on 18 December 1971 in Azimpur graveyard.

The witness testified stated that one of the reasons for her killing was that she sometimes gave money for medications and treatment of local freedom fighters. He stated that his mother used sometimes wrote for the Daily Purbadesh and that a person named Chowdhury  Mueen Uddin, who was a local ICS leader , also worked there. Cowdhury Mueen Uddin was from Feni, where Selina Parveen was also from. The witness stated that Mueen Uddin was also involved in local political disputes. The witness stated that Mueen Uddin had spoken with his mother at the office and that it was only through him that Al-Badr could have found their home address. The uncle of the witness who lived with them, named Uzir mama, also told the witness that Mueen Uddin accompanied the men who abducted Selina Parveen, as he recognized him upon seeing a photograph published in the newspaper.

The witness stated that he met one Delowar Hossain who claimed to have escaped from the Rayer Bazar shootout. Delowar Hossain stated that he was first taken to Mohammadpur Physical Training Institute where 20-25 others were also detained in a dark roam. Hossain stated that he met Selina Parveen there. All of the detained were taken to Rayer Bazar and were compelled to stand in three lines. The mother of PW-3 was unfortunately in the first line. She started to cry loudly and was bayoneted. Delowar Hossain who described this to the witness managed to run and escape.  The witness started to cry at this point of the testimony and concluded by praying for justice for the brutal killing of his mother.