4 August 2013: ICT-2 Daily Summary – Khan and Mueen Uddin PW 9, Alim cross-examination of Investigation Officer

Today the Tribunal heard matters in the following cases:

  1. Chief Prosecutor vs. Ashrafuzzaman Khan and Chowdhury Mueen Uddin
  2. Chief Prosecutor vs. Abdul Alim

Tribunal 2 recorded the testimony of Prosecution witness 9 in the case against Ashrafuzzaman Khan and Chowdhury Mueen Uddin, both of whom are being tried in absentia. Both the examination-in-chief and cross-examination were completed on this day. The testimony of Prosecution witness 9 supports Charge 11 against the accused, pertaining to the killing of physician Dr Alim Chowdhury.

The court also made some progress in the case against Abdul Alim as it continued to record the cross-examination of ZM Altafur Rahman, the Investigation Officer for the case. So far, the Defense counsel has directed their line of questioning at highlighting inconsistencies in the investigation procedures followed by the Investigation Officer. The Tribunal adjourned Alim’s case until 5th August, 2013.

Chief Prosecutor vs. Khan and Mueen Uddin
Today Farzana Chowdhury Neepa, Prosecution witness 9, testified in support of Charge 11, relating to the murder of physician Dr. Alim Chowdhury during the massacre of Bangladesh’s intellectual community.

The witness stated that she was only three years old in 1971 but that she learned about her father’s abduction from her mother, grandmother and two colleagues of her father, all of whom were eye witnesses to the incident. She stated that she gathered further information about the incident from various books, newspapers and documentaries on Bangladesh’s war for independence.

The witness said that her father, Dr Alim Chowdhury was an eye specialist who played an active role in most of the progressive movements of the country, including the 1952 Language Movement to establish Bangla as the state language. During the 1971 war, Dr Alim ran a secret hospital in collaboration with other physicians including Dr Fazle Rabbi. The hospital was used to treat wounded freedom fighters. Dr. Alim Chowdhury provided medical treatment as well as some forms of monetary aid. The witness testified that this was the reason for which he was targeted by the perpetrators.

The witness described how her father was abducted. She stated that on 15th December, 1971 at around 4 p.m., a microbus stopped in front of their house and two armed men got out. They then entered the apartment of Moulana Mannan, who was one of the organizers of Al-Badr forces and lived on the ground floor of the same building. Mr Mannan subsequently became a cabinet member during the tenure of military dictator HM Ershad’s governance.

After about 20 or 30 minutes the two armed men knocked on the door of the victim’s house. Hearing the, the victim Alim ran down to Mannan’s house using a different staircase. However Mannan did not open the door and so Alim returned to his house. The two armed men then took him away in the same microbus.

Right after he was taken away, the mother of the witness, Mrs Shyamoli Nasrin Chowdhury, also went to Mannan’s house to ask for his assistance. Mannan once again refused to open the door but advised her not to panic. He told her that Alim had been taken by his Al-Badr students who also took others, including Dr Fazle Rabbi. He also informed her that Alim was being taken to the Military Hospital so that he could aid wounded people. The witness at this point became extremely emotional and started to cry as she told the Tribunal that her family never found out her father’s whereabouts and that he never returned even though Bangladesh achieved its victory on the morning of 16th December, 1971. Two days later, on 18th December 1971, Dr. Alim Chowdhury’s body was found at the Rayerbazar mass grave and was reburied in Azimpur graveyard.

The witness stated that her mother had told her that it was Al-Badr who abducted her father. In December of 1971 and January 1972, the Daily Purbadesh and a few other newspapers published the photographs of Chowdhury Mueen Uddin and Ashrafuzzaman, identifying them as the persons involved in the brutal killing of the intellectuals. She stated that she later gathered more information about the killing of intellectuals after she became affiliated to Projonmo ’71 (Generation ’71), a group comprising children of the martyrs of 1971. She also said that she gathered information from a documentary named War Crimes File which was produced by Twenty Twenty Television pertaining to the killings of the intellectuals.

The witness concluded by expressing her desire to see death penalty for the two accused.

The Defense counsel for Ashrafuzzaman Khan and Chowdhury Mueen Uddin suggested to the witness that their clients were neither involved neither with Al-Badr nor with any killings during the War of Liberation in 1971. The cross-examination focused on the possibility that the victim was abducted by the Pakistani Army or other groups with which the accused had no connection whatsoever. 

Chief Prosecutor vs. Abdul Alim
Cross-Examination of Investigation Officer
Abdul Alim’s senior Defense counsel, Mr Ahsanul Huq Hena began the cross examination of the Investigation Officer, Altafur Rahman. This first session was brief and the counsel stated that he would complete it without further delay over the next few sessions. 

The Defense’s questions focused mainly on the Investigation Officer’s investigation procedure, including visits to the alleged crime scenes. The Defense additionally asked about his findings in reference to the material exhibits.

In response a question from the Defense, the Investigation Officer stated that he did not question the Awami League Chairman or Secretary of Jaipurhat Mohokuma. He said that he did go to the Sadar Thana Complex and denied the Defense’s suggestion that no arson or looting took place there in 1971.

The witness stated that he visited Shaonlal Bazla’s Godighor. He said he did not measure the length and size of the sitting room. He denied the Defense’s suggestion that there was never an army camp there.

Turning to material exhibits, the Investigation Officer stated that he had perused Material Exhibit-VII, the book “Ekatturer Ghatok o Dalal ra ke kothay” by Mr Shahariar Kabir. He said that he did not question the author but denied that he had purposefully avoided interviewing him. The Defense noted that page 25 of the book states that the Peace Committee in Jaipurhat Mohokuma was formed on 25th June 1971 under the leadership of Abbas Ali. The Investigation Officer said that he did not reach this finding in the course of his investigation.

The witness carried stated that he investigated the role of then East Pakistan Convention Muslim League. He said he found that one of its leaders, Shamsul Huda, was later suspended from the party. The Investigation Officer stated that he also determined that Khoyer Uddin was the Central Peace Committee Chairman. He also confirmed that he hadreviewed Material Exhibit IX. He acknowledged that Afzal Uddin Shikdar was the Jaipurhat Mohokuma Commander of the Peace Committee. He strongly denied however that the Pakistani Army entered Jaipurhat on 25th April 1971. He said he not know where Major Afzal was