Today the Tribunal heard matters in the following cases:
- Chief Prosecutor vs. Salauddin Qader Chowdhury
- Chief Prosecutor vs. Motiur Rahman Nizami
In the Nizami case the Tribunal heard the examination-in-chief and cross-examination of Prosecution witness 15, Aminul Islam Dablu.
In the Chowdhury case the Tribunal had scheduled today as the deadline for producing Defense witnesses 4 and 5, Salman F Rahman and Shamim Hasnain. However, the Defense filed an application stating that they were facing difficulties in producing the witnesses and requested that the Tribunal allow another Defense witness, Abdul Momen Chowdhury, to testify in place of Salman F Rahman. The Prosecution opposed the application, noting Abdul Momen Chowdhury’s name did not appear in the original list of 1153 witnesses submitted by the Defense. They argued that section 9(5) of the ICT Act states that if the Defense intends to rely upon witnesses, the list of witnesses must be submitted before the Tribunal and the Prosecution at the commencement of the trial. The Prosecution additionally submitted that there is no scope under the ICT Act of 1973 or the Rules of Procedure to allow alternative witness. After hearing both the sides, the Tribunal verbally granted the Defense’s application and asked the Defense if they would be able to produce the witness by 12 pm. The Defense agreed and the witness testified and was cross-examined by the Prosecution. After concluding the cross-examination, the Defense requested that the Tribunal allow them to produce Shamim Hasnain (on of the 5 DWs) on 28 July. However, the Tribunal passed an order and stated that the examination-in-chief of Defense witnesses has been concluded. They noted that they provided two additional opportunities for the Defense to produce the witness and that they did not now find any new ground for reconsideration. The Tribunal finally scheduled 28 July for the beginning of the Prosecution’s Closing Arguments and 31 July for the beginning of the Defense Closing Arguments.
Chief Prosecutor vs. Nizami
Prosecution witness 15
Aminul Islam Dablu, Prosecution witness 15, testified in support of charges 7 and 9. Charge 7 alleges that Nizami was complicit in the torture and murder of Sohrab Ali Pramanik as crimes against humanity under section 3(2)(a) and 3(2)(h) of the ICT Act, read with sections 4(1) and 4(2). Charge 9 alleges that Nizami committed genocide and persecution as a crime against humanity under section under sections 3(2)(c)(i) and section 3(2)(a) respectively, read with sections 4(1) and section 4(2) of the Act.
Aminul Islam Dablu, Prosecution witness 15, testified that he is now between 45 and 46 years of age and that during the independence war he was 3 years old. Aminul testified that his elder brother is Abdus Salim Latif (Prosecution Witness 14) and his father was Sohrab Ali Pramanik, the victim of charge 7. He stated that his elder brother and father actively participated in the independence war. Aminul Islam testified that he heard from his elder brother Latif that on 15 August Latif and his cousin Alauddin were caught by Razakars and taken to the Army camp. At the Army camp Latif said he saw Nizami talking with members of the Pakistani Army. Aminul testified that he also heard from his elder brother that he (Latif) and Alauddin were tortured at the camp by Pakistani Army members and subsequently thrown into the river. Aminul stated that his father had been in India but returned in early December 1971. Local Razakars and Al-Badr members informed Motiur Rahman Nizami of his return on the 2nd of December and they raided the witness’ house on 3 December 1971. The attackers dragged his father out of the house and later tortured him and shot him on the road. The witness also stated that Monu, Josthi Pramanik, Bodu Pramanik, Ganandra Nath Hawlader and many more unarmed villagers were killed that night and that 70 to 75 houses were set on fire.
Aminul Islam Dablu, Prosecution witness 15, acknowledged that he is the organizing secretary of Bera Upozila Awami League. The Defense claimed that Abu Sayeed (former minister of Awami League) and Shamsul Huq Tuku (present minister of Awami league) and the witness (Aminul Islam Dablu) are from the same village, which he admitted. The Defense claimed that the witness’ brother Abdus Salim Latif (PW-14) did not actually tell him the names of the alleged Al-Badr and Razakar members who captured his brother Abdus Salim Latif (PW-14) and killed his father. The witness said his brother had told him the names. The Defense asked the witness whether the responsible Al-Badr and Razakar members are still alive. The witness replied that some of them died some of them still alive.
During examination-in-chief the witness testified that his father was killed on 3 December 1971. During examination-in-chief the witness (Aminul Islam Dablu) further testified that he is now 45/ 46 years old, where his elder Abdus Salim Latif testified that he (Abdus Salim Latif) is now 59 or 60 years old. However, during examination-in-chief, he (Latif) stated his younger brother is 20 to 22 years younger than. The Defense asked the witness about his date of birth following his SSC registration. The witness replied that he himself did not provide the information for his SSC registration. The Defense asked the witness whether the National ID card bears his information and signature. The witness replied that it does. The Defense claimed that according to the National ID card of his younger sisters Nazma and Suraiya, they were born on 15 December 1973 and 31 December 1976 respectively. The witness replied that he does not know.
The Defense claimed that during his initial interview with the Investigation Officer the witness did not allege that his brother Latif told him that he saw Nizami talking with the members of Pakistan Army, that Nizami was informed of the return of his father, or that his father was brutally tortured on the road. The witness replied that he did include all of these details in his statement to the Investigation Officer. Thereafter, the Defense denied each of the witness’ allegations line by line, relying on his examination-in-chief. They claimed that as the witness is involved with the Awami League, he is acting at the order of his leaders and providing false testimony against Nizami. The witness denied the allegation.
Chief Prosecutor vs. Chowdhury
Defense Witness 4
Abdul Momen Chowdhury, Defense Witness 4, testified that in 1968 he joined in the Embassy of Damascus, Syria as third secretary. In 1970 after hearing about the death of his father he returned to Dhaka and stayed here for a month before returning back to Damascus. He said that his daughter stayed at his father-in-law’s house. Momen testified that on 28 January 1971 he sent his wife to Dhaka to get their daughter. After that after dropping his wife in Beirut to go to Dhaka, he learned that Indian air space was closed to Pakistani Airlines. He stated that he had no communication with his wife after she left Beirut for Dhaka and that in the meantime, the Pakistani government transferred him to the Embassy of Tanzania.
Momen testified that in the second or third week of April 1971 he went to Karachi with the intention of going to Dhaka to meet with his wife. He stated that he stayed in Karachi for two weeks but failed to get tickets to travel to Dhaka and was also unable to communicate with his wife by phone. He said he was very worried. He said that while in Karachi he went met with his school classmate Habibunnabi Ashikur Rahman, who was working under the government of Sindh. Momen testified that when he went to the office of Habibunnabi Ashikur Rahman he he met and was introduced to a man sitting in the office who was Salauddin Qader Chowdhury. Momen further testified that during their conversation he (Momen) came to know that Qayyum Reza Chowdhury (Defense Witness 3) was also in Karachi. Momen testified that he talked with Habibunnabi Ashikur Rahman to ask about his (Momen’s) family, but that Rahman was also unable to communicate with Momen’s family in Dhaka. Momen said he was interested in speaking with Qayyum Reza Chowdhury because he was relative of his in-laws family. Momen testified that one week after his visit to the office of Habibunnabi Ashikur Rahman, Qayyum Reza Chowdhury came to the where Momen was staying. Momen stated that Qayyum also did not have information regarding where Momen’s family was at that time but assured him that they were safe. Momen testified that after that he contacted the Secretary of Foreign Ministry Mr Fakhruddin who advised him to go to his work place. Thereafter Momen returned to Tanzania via Damascus.
The Prosecution asked the witness whether he knew that he is going to testify for Salauddin Qader Chowdhury before coming to the Tribunal. The witness replied that Barrister Fakhrul Islam (a member of the Defense counsel) communicated with him 1 week or 10 days ago and that additionally he (Momen) had drafted an affidavit detailing the events to which he had just testified. The Prosecution asked the witness about his government service: when he first joined the post and when he retired. The Prosecution claimed that from November 1963 to 16 December 1971 the witness worked under Pakistan government. The witness admitted that. The Prosecution asked the witness whether he received news of Awami League’s victory in the general elections of the 1970 election while he was working in Syria. They also asked if he heard about the subsequent killings by the Pakistani army beginning on the night of 25 March 1971. The witness replied that he knew about Awami League winning the 1970 election but that he did not receive detailed information about the killings of 25 March 1971.
The Prosecution noted that many embassy officers in 1971 were inspired by the Bangabondhu’s Declaration of Independence and took a stand in support of Bangladesh, including Hossen Ali and Humayon Rashid Chowdhury. The witness stated that he was aware of that. The Prosecution claimed that between 25 March and 16 December 1971 the witness never expressed his support of Bangladesh by resigning his job or taking any other action. The witness denied this. The Prosecution claimed that the witness is related to Salauddin Qader Chowdhury. The witness replied that Qayyum Reza Chowdhury is his relative and that Qayyum Reza Chowdhury is related to Salauddin Qader Chowdhury. The Prosecution claimed that Mr Fakhruddin also took a stand in support of Bangladesh. The witness denied this. The Prosecution alleged that the whole of the witness’ testimony is false, which he denied. The Prosecution described the testimony of the witness as ‘white lies’ and ‘twisted verses.’ The witness again denied the allegation.
The Prosecution claimed that in February 1971 the Pakistani government passed a transfer order specifying to join the witness in Tanzania within two weeks. The witness denied this. The Prosecution asked the witness whether he had any documentary evidence in support of his testimony. The witness replied that he had only documents regarding his government service. The Prosecution reiterated that the witness is providing false testimony because he is related to Salauddin Qader Chowdhury and is receiving a financial benefit. The witness denied this.