Today the Tribunal heard matters in the following cases:
- Contempt Proceedings against Prosecution Witness Jahir Uddin Jalal
- Chief Prosecutor vs. Ashrafuzzaman Khan and Chowdhury Mueen Uddin
The Tribunal revisited the contempt proceedings against Jahir Uddin Jalal, who is accused of attacking a member of the Defense outside of the High Court. The Tribunal previously passed an order on the matter cautioning against his behavior without concluding that he in fact had attacked the Defense counsel. Jalal contested the order and stated that his lawyer had been acting without his consent in approving of such an order. The Tribunal therefore recalled the order and is rehearing the matter. Jalal’s newly appointed counsel, Mr Kamrul Islam Siddiqui, made submissions on his behalf. Mr Abdur Razzak appeared on behalf of the petitioner, Defense counsel member Munshi Ahsan Kabir. The Tribunal heard both parties and then passed an order asking the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate to carry out an enquiry into the alleged incident.
Next the Tribunal turned the Ashrafuzzaman Khan and Chowdhury Mueen Uddin case, in which they recorded the cross-examination of Prosecution witness 5 and the examination of Prosecution witness 6.
Contempt Proceedings: Hearing on Recalled Order
Jahir Uddin Jalal, the Prosecution witness who allegedly attacked Defense counsel Munshi, faces charges of contempt for obstruction of justice. His counsel submitted that Jalal denies the allegation that he attacked anyone in its entirety. As he completely denied his presence at the site of the alleged incident, it is not reasonable to think that he would instruct his previous lawyer Mr Monsur Rashid to request that the Tribunal dispose of the matter by issuing a warning to Jalal. For this reason Jalal filed his application requesting a recall.
Jalal’s counsel next challenged whether the Tribunal has the jurisdiction and authority to conduct a parallel trial in order to resolve the dispute of fact in a contempt proceeding. The counsel stated that such proceedings are inappropriate because the Tribunal has been formed to deal with cases of a very particular nature, those involving international crimes. Therefore they argued that these remote matters should instead be heard in the general criminal courts under domestic law.
Mr Razzak, on behalf of the victim of the alleged attack, argued that the dispute may be and should be resolved in this Tribunal and not in any other Bangladeshi court because the contempt proceedings involve an attack on Munshi Ahsan Kabir, an officer of this very court.
Regarding the resolution of the the dispute over the alleged facts and whether it was indeed Jalal who attacked the Defense counsel, Razzak argued that the Tribunal has documentary evidence showing that the Defense counsel was in fact attacked. In detemining whether that person was Jalal, Mr Razzak stated that where the two statements of the involved parties contradict each other the Tribunal has to decide whether to believe Mr Munshi Ahsan Kabir, a member of the Supreme Court Bar and an officer of the Court, or whether to believe Jahir Uddin Jalal, a Prosecution witness. Razzak stressed that the Tribunal should adjudicate the matter according to the credibility of these two individuals and come to a decision. He argued that a police enquiry is not an option because the petitioner has no confidence in the neutrality and competence of the police conducting an investigation they will inevitably support Jalal because he is a Prosecution witness. Mr Razzak concluded that once disposed of with a warning the matter should have been left alone. However, Jalal has become so powerful that he showed no hesitation to recall the order of disposal and to overturn the court’s order. Razzak argued that sets a negative precedent in the judicial system and could encourage a new trend of attacking opposing counsel.
Having heard arguments from both sides the Tribunal made a statement asserting that it has the necessary jurisdiction and authority to resolve disputes of fact even in contempt proceedings, especially when the matter involves an attack on an officer of Court. Regarding the question of how to resolve the dispute of fact, the Tribunal stated that it cannot make a decision without any investigation or enquiry. Accordingly, the Tribunal rejected Mr Razzak’s submission opposing enquiry and ordered the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate to conduct an investigation into the involvement of Jalal in the alleged attack.
Chief Prosecutor vs. Ashrafuzzaman Khan and Chowdhury Mueen Uddin (in absentia)
Prosecution Witness 5
Today the Defense conducted the cross-examination of Dr Syed Anwar Husain, Prosecution witness 5, who is a Professor in the History Department of Dhaka University and was a colleague of victim Professor Gias Uddin. Defense counsel for Ashrafuzzaman, Mr Shukur, asked the witness questions about his date of birth and work at Dhaka University. The witness said he does not know how many professors, in addition to Mr. Mostafuzir Rahman, at Dhaka University were pro-Pakistan and against Bangladesh’s liberation. The witness testified that the non-Bengali guard named Rahim did not go to the pump house. He also stated that he did not see Gias Uddin being boarded into the car. He said he only saw him being taken away by the person who appeared at the gate of the water pump room. When asked if he had recognized the face of the person abducting Gias Uddin, the witness responded that the man’s face was covered but that he was wearing the uniform of Al-Badr. The witness then denied that the news reports incriminating Ashrafuzzaman were all based on speculation.
Defense counsel counsel for Chowdhury Mueen Uddin, Ms Tuny, concluded the cross-examination. She adopted the examination done by the counsel of Ashrafuzzaman and asked a few additional questions. She suggested that Professor Gias Uddin worked in favor of liberation of Bangladesh whereas Professor Mostafizur Rahman worked against it. Thus it was Mostafizur who directed the killings of Gias Uddin, and Chowdhury Mueen Uddin and Ashrafuzzaman Khan were not involved. The witness denied such suggestion.
Prosecution Witness 6
The Prosecution then called Towhid Reza Nur, Prosecution witness 6. The witness stated that he was only 3 years old in 1971 when he lost his father. He is the youngest of his eight brothers and heard about his father’s kidnapping and disappearance from his brother and mother.
The witness stated that his father was the executive editor of news at the Daily Ittefaq. He wrote regularly in favor of Bangladesh’s independence. An article named “Eto din ey” was published in the newspaper criticizing the United Nations and the United States for their role in Bangladesh’s struggle. The victim also wrote an article named “Thokbaaji te ga uzar” detailing the atrocities committed by Pakistan. In response, two articles, “Otoyeb Thokbachion” and “Shironam er karchupi,” were published in pro-Pakistan dailies threatening the victim.
The witness stated that on 10TH December, 1971 someone came to the door of their house and knocked. His father opened the door and could not see anyone. He came back to sleep. Then again at 3pm., someone again knocked at the door. This time, the elder brother of the witness, Mr Shahin Reza Noor, woke up and heard the voice of their landlord. When he went outside he saw that the landlord was standing with his sons and bother-in-law being held at gunpoint by six or seven persons who had their faces covered with monkey caps or clothes. These men then entered the house and confirmed the identity of the witness’s father. They then blindfolded him and took him away.
The witness stated that his family heard that many others had similarly been kidnapped, including journalists and intellectuals such as Nazrul Huq, Nizam Uddin Ahmed, Shahidullah Kaisar, Selina Parveen, Prof. Giasuddin Ahmed and Munir Chowdhury. The witness said he always wanted to know why his father was targeted and so he read many books and gathered information as the Founding General Secretary of “Generation 71.” Through this research he said he learned that it was Al-Badr men who came to their house that night.
The witness also stated that he was part of the Research Core for a documentary named “War Crimes Files,” produced by Twenty-Twenty TV and telecast in the UK. He stated that he conducted interviews of various people including eye witnesses, and that it became evident to him that Mueen Uddin and Ashrafuzzaman were involved in the killing of the intellectuals. He stated that the late Doli Chowdhury was among the eye witnesses. Mueen Uddin’s colleague Mr Atiqur Rahman and one survivor named Delwar Hossain also confirmed the matter. The witness said he learned from them that Mueen Uddin was the “Operation in Charge” of Al-Badr. The witness also said that Atiqur Rahman told him that Ashrafuzzaman Khan was the “chief executor” of the killings of the intellectuals. The witness also referenced the Daily Purbadesh, noting that after Bangladesh’s victory it published pictures of Mueen Uddin and Ashrafuzzaman. In a story in the New York Times January 1972 issue reports on Mueen Uddin were also published.
The witness concluded by saying that his father was killed because he and other intellectuals played a role in defining the nationalism of the country. He said that he wanted death penalty for the killers.