Today the Tribunal heard matters in the following cases:
- Chief Prosecutor vs. Salauddin Qader Chowdhury
At the beginning of today’s proceedings the Tribunal summarily rejected an application for adjournment filed yesterday by the Defense requesting additional time for approval from the Chief Justice for High Court judge Shamim Hasnain to testify in the Chowdhury case. The Prosecution then continued with its Closing Arguments for the second consecutive day, addressing charges 3, 4, 5 and 6. Arguments will continue tomorrow.
Continuing their arguments on Charge 3, the Prosecution submitted that the date, place, time of occurrence, manner of occurrence, and the presence of the accused at the site of the crime had all been established during the testimony of the relevant witnesses, and was not shaken by the Defense’s cross-examination. The asserted that they had proven the charges beyond reasonable doubt. They referred to Exhibit 16, a news report published in the daily Bangla (a local daily newspaper) on 13 April 1972 reporting stated Nuton Chandra Singh was killed by the Pakistani Army while Nuton was praying at the temple. The report further stated that Salauddin Qader Chowdhury directed the Pakistani Army to go to Kundeshori and shot Nuton Chandra Singh. The Prosecution submitted that this exhibit collaborates the testimony of the Prosecution witnesses. They also referred to pages 576- 577 of the book titled ‘Muktijuddher Dalilpotro’ Vol-8 which was taken unto evidence under judicial notice. It is notable that Exhibit 16 and page 576- 577 of the book titled ‘Muktijuddher Dalilpotro’ Vol-8 are almost word by word identical. The Prosecution also relied on Exhibit 44 which is a map of the alleged place of occurrence.
The Prosecution next addressed Charge 4 under which it is alleged that on 13 April 1971 at about 10:30 to 11 am Salauddin Qader Chowdhury led a team of accomplices along with Pakistani Army and raided the area of Jogot Mollo Para belonging to Hindu community. The Prosecution claimed that earlier in the morning two of Salauddin Qader Chowdhury’s accomplices went to Jogot Mollo Para and told members of the Hindu community to attend a peace meeting. Once they were gathered there and Chwodhury and his accomplices had arrived, the military opened fire on the gathered civilians resulting in the death of 32 Hindu people. Additionally Jotsna Bala Chowdhury and Chobi Rani Das were seriously injured. The houses were looted and destroyed by fire and the survivors had to flee to India as refugees. For all of these acts Salauddin Qader Chowdhury is charged for genocide and for persecution as a crime against humanity. The prosecution stated that Salauddin Qader Chowdhury had conspired to commit these crimes and that he was complicit in their commission. They also stated that Salauddin Qader Chowdhury failed to prevent the commission of such offence.
In support of Charge 4 the Prosecution referred to the testimony of witnesses 13, 12 and 3, as well as Exhibits 95, 29 and 45. They read out the testimony of the Prosecution witness 13, Asish Chowdhury. The witness testified that in 1971 he between 8 and 10 years old. On 13 April he, his mother and siblings went to his aunt’s house in Binajuri. In the afternoon his maternal uncle Arbindu Sing came to the house and informed them that Salauddin Qader Chowdhury and local supporters of Muslim League along with the Pakistani Army had gone to Asish’s home and shot between 30 and 35 persons, including his father Premangshu Bimol Chowdhury, his elder brother Ashok Kumar Chowdhury, his aunt Monoroma Chowdhury, uncle Sitangshu Bimol Chowdhury, and his cousin Samir Chowdhury. Asish testified that his aunt, Jotsna Bala Chowdhury, neighbor Amalendra Bikash Chowhury, and many more were injured. Asish, his mother, his maternal uncle and his two sisters then fled from Binajuri to Borua Para and from there they fled to India. He stated that after the war they returned to their village and found only the walls of their house and ashes. He further said that his aunt Josona Bala is in bed due to due sickness.
The Prosecution then read out Exhibit 95, the witness statement of Jotsna Bala (deceased) which was admitted by Tribunal as evidence under section 19(2) of the ICT Act. Her statement asserted that she was shot by the Pakistani Army. She also claimed that Salauddin Qader Chowdhury was with the Army and that before leaving they set the house on fire. The Prosecution read out Exhibit 29, a news report published on 4 July 2008 in the daily Suprobath Bangladesh. It stated that with the assistance of Salauddin Qader Chowdhury the Pakistani Army shot and killed 47 persons in the attack in which Jotsna Bala was shot. The Prosecution also read out the testimony of Prosecution witness 12, Aurunangso Bimol Chowdhur. Aurunangso testified on the day of the attack Kaikobad Chowdhury, the Chairman of Rangunia, told him to leave his house. He and his family went to his in-laws’ house in Binajuri. 2 after arriving he he heard that all the residents of Jogot Mollo Para had been gunned down. He said that he went to see that he and on the way found his sister-in-law, Jotsna Bala, who had been shot. He and his family left that night for India. The Prosecution also referred to Shirajul Islam alias Siru Bengali’s testimony, in which he said that he heard from Captain Karim about the killing of Jogot Molla para on 13 April 1971.
Prosecution concluded that the testimony of the Prosecution witnesses clearly establishes that Salauddin Qader Chowdhury was present at the time of these killings and that the Hindu religious group was targeted. They further submitted that the crimes were carried out in a planned way.
Under charge 5 it is alleged that on 13 April 1971 at about 1 pm Salauddin Qader Chowdhury and his accomplices led the Pakistani army in an attack on Sultanpur Bonic para. It was alleged that the accomplices of Salauddin Qader Chowdhury and the Pakistani army, under the leadership of Chowdhury and his father, entered Bonic Para where they opened fire upon the unarmed Hindu community, killing Napal Chandra Dhar, Monindra Lal Dhar, and Upendro Lal Dhar before setting the houses on fire. The charge described that all these actions were done with intent to destroy in whole or in part members of Hindu religious group, amounting to genocide and persecution as crimes against humanity.
In support of this charge the Prosecution relied on the testimony of Prosecution witnesses 3 and 22, as well as the witness statement of Badol Biswas (Exhibit 98) under section 19(2) of the ICT Act 1973. The Prosecution claimed that Badol Biswas is now in India and therefore unavailable to testify. The Prosecution read out the testimony of Onil Boron Dhar, Prosecution witness 22. He testified that on 13 April 1971 at about 1 or 1:30 pm the followers of Fazlul Qader Chowdhury along with Salauddin Qader Chowdhury and members of the Pakistani Army entered the village of Sultanpur Banikpara in Rawzan, Chittagong. Onil testified that they caught him, his father Upendro Lal Dhar, his uncle Monindra Lal Dhar, and another person Napal Chandra Dhar. They were made to stand in a line and then the Army began shooting at them. Onil testified that he was shot in his left hand and on the left side of his back and that he lost consciousness. When he regained consciousness he found those around him including his father Upendro Lal Dhar and uncle Monindra Lal Dhar had been killed. Onil testified that he went to his maternal uncle’s house in Ishapur and then, using a fake identity, he went for medical treatment at Chittagong Medical College. The Prosecution noted that during the cross-examination Onil said that he filed a case before the Rawzan police station in which Salauddin Qader Chowdhury was one of the 15 accused. The Prosecution stated that Badol Biswas’ section 19(2) statement collaborates the testimony of Onil Boron Dhar, Prosecution witness 22. They also noted that Shirajul Islam’s testimony further verified that Salauddin Qader Chowdhury committed crimes in Sultanpur with the help of the Pakistani Army.
Charge 6 alleged that on 13 April 1971 at about 4 pm to 5 pm Salauddin Qader Chowdhury along with of his accomplices led the Pakistani army in an attack on Unsattar Para, a Hindu neighborhood. They allegedly rounded people up at the bank of the pond, telling them they had to attend a Peace Committee meeting, and then opened fire on them killing 50 named and 19 or 20 unknown civilians. Januti Bala Paul was shot in her waist. The charge alleged that the Hindu community was forced by the event to flee to India. Chowdhury is charged with genocide and forced deportation as a crime against humanity in conjunction with these events.
The Prosecution relied on the testimony of Prosecution witnesses 3, 7, 31, 32 and 37, as well as Exhibit 96, the out-of-court witness statement of Januti Bala (deceased) which was admitted under section 19(2) of the ICT. Shujit Mohazon, Prosecution witness 31, is the son of victim Jogesh Chandra Mohazon and brother of victim Harilata Mohazon. He testified that on 13 April 1971 he, his father Jogesh Chandra, and his brother Ranjit Mohazon were sitting together on their veranda when the Pakistani army and some Bengalis arrived and then entered into their house. Sujit testified that he hid himself beside a grain container in their kitchen and witnessed his father and brother being abducted and taken to the bank of Khitish Chandra’s pond from which he heard the sounds of shooting. After the shooting subsided Sujit stated that he found the bodies of his father and brother. He also stated that the Pakistani army took away his mother, aunt, and sister-in-law, and that his mother was shot and injured near the pond. He asserted that between 60 and 62 persons were killed along the bank. Sujit said his mother told him that Salauddin Qader Chowdhury and his accomplices were present during the incident.
The Prosecution also referred to the testimony of Basanti Gosh, Prosecution witness 32 and wife of victim Monoranjon Gosh. She testified that a Pakistani military member and a Bengali came to their house and abducted her husband. She tried to free her husband but was beaten by the army personal. She said her husband was taken to Khitish Mohazon’s home where he was lined up along with others and killed.
Chapala Rani, Prosecution witness 37 and sister-in-law of victim Beni Madhab, testified that when the Pakistani Army raided their area they knocked at every door to tell everyone to gather at the bank of the pond. Her brother-in-law Beni Madhab tried to assure her and their family by saying that the Chairman Makbul and Salauddin Qader Chowdhury were present. Then they opened fire and Chapala was knocked unconscious while her brother-in-law Beni Madhab, Tarapada, and her father Shatish Paul were killed. When Chapala regained consciousness she said she heard people crying while they searched for their family among the bodies. She said a Muslim neighbor helped her to get find her husband, who was unconscious, and to take him back to the house. They stayed in hiding in their Muslim neighbor’s house and stayed there 4 days. She testified that she saw Salauddin Qader Chowdhury during the incident.
Additionally, the Prosecution summarized the testimony of Abbas Uddin Ahmed, Prosecution witness 7. He testified that on 11 April, he saw the head of the Muslim League Fazlul Qader Chowdhury with his family, including Salauddin Qader Chowdhury and Gias Uddin Chowdhury, crossing a check point in a Box wagon car at the south side of Gourishankor Hat, Unsottor Para. Abbas testified that Moktul Hosen, Piaru, and Barma Eusuf, instructed Hindus to gather by Khitish Mohazon. He said he saw the Hindus and 2 or 3 motor vehicles of the Punjabi forces going south Khitish Mohazon. Later on 15 April he and one or two of his friends went to Unsottor Para where they saw 60 or 70 corpses including the body of Babul Mali. Abbas testified that on 13 April he had seen two civilians in the Pakistani army vehicle but that he was unable to recognized them. However he heard from people that Salauddin Qader Chowdhury. Sirajul Islam alias Siru Bengali, Prosecution Witness 3, also provided hearsay testimony that he had been told that Captain Karim of the Pakistani Army was helped by Salauddin Qader Chowdhury in committing crimes in Unsottor Para on 13 April 1971.