23 July 2013: ICT-2 Daily Summary – Contempt Proceedings, Ashrafuzzaman Khan and Mueen Uddin PWs 3 and 4.

23 July 2013: ICT-2 Daily Summary – Contempt Proceedings against Prosecution Witness, Ashrafuzzaman Khan and Chowdhury Mueen Uddin Cross Examination of PW 3

Today the Tribunal heard matters in the following cases:

  1. Contempt Proceedings against Jahir Uddin Jalal
  2. Chief Prosecutor vs. Ashrafuzzaman Khan & Chowdhury Mueen Uddin

Jahir Uddin Jalal, a Prosecution witness against whom contempt charges were brought after he allegedly physically assaulted a Defense attorney outside of the High Court, filed an application to recall the order passed by Tribunal on 21 July. The Tribunal’s order disposed of the the charge by cautioning the witness not to engage in similar behavior in the future, without concluding that the incident was definitively committed by him. Jalal opposed the order, alleging that he did not instruct his lawyer Monsur Rashid to propose such a disposal of the matter and that the lawyer had acted without his instruction. Jalal’s newly appointed counsel requested that the order be recalled. The Tribunal accepted the application and recalled the order, scheduling a rehearing of the matter for 29 July.

In the Khan and Mueen Uddin case the Tribunal heard the cross-examination of Prosecution witness 3 as well as the testimony of Prosecution witness 4. The case is scheduled to continue tomorrow, 24 July, with the testimony of Prosecution witness 5.

Chief Prosecutor vs. Ashrafuzzaman Khan and Chowdhury Mueen Uddin
Prosecution Witness 3
The witness, Sumon Jahid, was asked about where he studied during 1971. He replied that he was not sent to any school and was taught at home as he was his mother’s only child. He stated that in 1974 he was admitted to Banani Biddaniketon School in Class-4. He finished his SSC in 1980 and HSC from Notre Dame College in the year 1982. He stated that although he was not actively involved in student politics, he always had political awareness.

The witness testified that he and his family used to live in an one-storied building in the front side unit. He does not know whether any complaint was lodged regarding his mother’s killing because he was very young at that time. The Defense suggested that nothing anti-Pakistan could have been published in his mother’s newspaper because the Pakistani authorities would not allow such publication. The witness denied this. Sumon Jahid also denied that his uncle Uzir and Syed Salauddi MP did not actually live with the witness and his mother regularly. The Defense also suggested that the witness did not meet anyone named Delwar Hossain who allegedly related the details of finding his mother’s body and the involvement of Mueen Uddin and Khan in the killing.

The Defense alleged that Selima Parveen did not write for the Dailu Purba Desh and therefore could not have met Mueen Uddin at its office as alleged in the witness’ testimony. They stated that Mueen Uddin was not a member of Al-Badr and did not support the acts of the Pakistan Army during 1971. The Defense accused the witness of attempting to incriminate the Accused based on mere news reports and assumptions. The witness disagreed with these allegations and reiterated the truthfulness of his testimony.

Prosecution witness 4
The witness, Dr Enamul Huq Khan alias Piyaru, is a Professor of History at Janangir Nagar University and the son of the victim Dr Shirajul Huq Khan. The witness stated that his father taught at the Dhaka University’s Education and Research Institute and resided in the university’s residential area. His uncle, the late Shamsul Huq also used to live with them. Dr. Khan testified that in 1971 he was in his final year as a student of history at Dhaka University. He said that his father, Dr Shirajul Huq, regularly discussed the discriminatory policies of the West Pakistan government against then East Pakistan. The witness stated that such criticism was the likely reason why his father was targeted and ultimately killed.

On the night of 14th December 1971 the witness stated that a mini-bus came and stopped in front of their house. It was covered with mud. He said a few men wearing khaki pants and army like pull-overs came out of the car. The visitors rang the bell of the witness’ house and the witness’s uncle Shamsul opened the door. Two men came in and asked about the whereabouts of Dr. Shirajul. The witness said his uncle told them that he was not home but was downstairs in Mr Ismail’s house. The visiting men immediately went to Mr. Ismail’s apartment.

The witness stated that from the balcony he saw that the visitors blindfolded his father using his own handkerchief and took him away in the mini-bus. Shortly thereafter they heard that many others from Dhaka University had also been picked up from their respective houses in a similar fashion. The witness noted that Dr Murtaza of the Medical Center and the brother-in-law of Dr Mostafizur Rahman from the Arabic Department had also been taken. However, on the 15th of December, 1971, the brother-in-law of Dr Mostafizur was brought back to his house in an army jeep. Hearing about this, the witness went to talk to Mostafizur to try and find out where his father was being held. However, Dr Mostafizur declined to meet him. In the afternoon of the same day, the witness heard that Dr Faisal Mohi, Dr Abul Khayer, Prof. Anwar Rasha, Prof. Rashidul Hasan, Shontosh Chandra Bottacharjo, and Prof Gias Uddin were all picked up in the same way. On the 15th December there was an enforced curfew which the witness stated prevented him from looking for his father. After the surrender of the Pakistani Army on the 16th, the witness began searching again though he did not find anything for two days.

In January 1972, an Officer of the National Security Intellegence (NSI) named Samad Talukdar brought a Mr Mofiz Uddin to meet with the witness. Allegedly Mr. Ofiz Uddin had been the driver of the minibus in which the witness’ father was abducted. Mofiz told the witness that those in charge of the operation were all Bengali and Al-Badr members. He stated that the Pakistan Army was not involved. He told the witness that those who had been picked up from their homes were taken to Mirpur Mazar Road where they were shot and killed by someone named Ashrafuzzaman Khan. On 4th January 1972, the witness went to the site and identified the body of his father. He also identified the body of Shantosh Chandra Bhattacharja. The bodies of seven others were also identified soon after. They were taken first to the Dhaka Medical Morgue and then to the Dhaka University Mosque for Janaza rituals and burial.

The witness stated that he had spoken to Ms Masuda Banu Ratna, the niece of Prof. Gias Uddin, in the Dhaka Medical College (DMC) Morgue. Her description of the people who kidnapped her uncle matched with that of those who abducted the witness’ father. The witness said that he did not know the names of those persons who took his father but that Ratna informed him that they were Chowdhury Mueen Uddin and Ashrafuzzaman Khan, both of whom were members of Islami Chatra Shangha (ICS). He further testified that a few days later the Daily Purba Desh published the photograph of the Ashrafuzzaman and Mueen Uddin. Upon seeing the same, the witness became sure that these two are the men who kidnapped his father. The witness then identified photographs of the two accused.

The cross-examination of the witness was conducted by state appointed Defense counsel representing each of the Accused, who are being tried jointly in absentia. The Defense sought to challenge reliability of the witness’s hearsay evidence, implying that he could not have identified the Accused with enough certainty to connect them with the alleged charges. The Defense suggested that the victim was abducted and killed by the Pakistan Army with assistance from the pro-Pakistan faculty members of Dhaka University

The witness told the Defense he was 22 years old in 1971. He denied the suggestion that those who abducted his father were members of Pakistan Army and that their vehicle was the requisition vehicle of the armed forces. The stated that he does not know why Dr Mostafizur Rahman did not allow him to meet his brother-in-law after he was released by the army. He admitted that Dr Mostafizur was against the war of liberation and was arrested under the Collaborators Order after independence. The Defense suggested that it was Dr Mostafizur who ordered the abduction of the witness’s father and that Mostafizur’s brother in law executed the order. The witness responded that he is not certan but that Mostafizur’s brother-in law (whose name is not known) was most likely taken for identification purposes.

The Defense alleged that Ashrafuzzaman was not a member of Al-Badr and was not even in Dhaka at the time of the killings. They further suggested that the witness never met a driver named Mofiz, as he was arrested under Collaborators Order and was hiding prior to such arrest. The Defense also alleged that the witness never met Ms Masuda Banu Ratna at the morgue because her uncle’s body was recovered on 5th December, 1971, a day later. The witness strongly denied such suggestions and stated that he was 100 percent sure of the involvement of the Accused.