21 August 2013: ICT-2 Daily Summary – Ashrafuzzaman Khan & Chowdhury Mueen Uddin PW 15

Today the Tribunal heard matters in the following cases:

  1. Chief Prosecutor vs. Ashrafuzzaman Khan & Chowdhury Mueen Uddin

Tribunal 2 heard the testimony of Prosecution witness 15 in the case against Ashrafuzzaman Khan and Chowdhury Mueen Uddin, both of whom are being tried in absentia. The testimony of the witness is relevant to Charge 6 of the case which alleges that the Defendants led a group of armed Al-Badr men in abducting Professor Gias Uddin Ahemed, Professor dr. Serajul Haque Khan, Dr. Md. Mortuja, Dr. Abul Khayer, Dr. Foyzul Mohiuddin, Professor Rashidul Hassan, Professor Anwar Pasha, and Professor Dr. Santosh Bhattacharrjee from their residences on Dhaka University campus. These victims are among the targets of the ‘intellectual killings’ that occurred just before the surrender of the Pakistani Army. The Defendants are charged with abduction as a crime against humanity, or in the alternative, with extermination as a crime against humanity, or in the alternative murder as a crime against humanity. Both modes of joint criminal enterprise and superior command responsibility are alleged as modes of liability.

Prosecution Witness 15
The witness stated that Dr Md Mortuja was a physician at Dhaka University Medical Center. He was a progressive man who, along with his colleagues Dr. Alim Chowdhury and Dr Fazle Rabbee, treated wounded freedom fighters during the 1971. They also provided some financial assistance to the freedom fighters.

 The witness said that he learned on 16th December 1971 that his brother-in-law had been abducted by Al-Badr men on 14th December in a mini-bus smeared with mud. He had not received the news before the 16th due to the curfew that was in place on both the 14th and 15th of December.

The witness stated that a few days after learning of his brother-in-law’s abduction a police officer accompanied by one Mr. Mofiz visited his houase. Mofiz confessed that he was the one who drove the mud-smudged mini-bus used to abduct the intellectuals. The police officer informed Mortuja’s wife that some dead bodies had been found in Mirpur. Based on Mofiz’s information the witness along with driver Mofiz, a Major of Indian Army and a few police officials all went to Mirpur on 4th January 1972. They found victim Mortuja’s body, along with that of other intellectuals including Serajul Haque Khan, Faizul Mahi, Shantosh Chandra Bhattacharjya and others, in a mass grave at the site. They took the bodies to Dhaka Medical College morgue for post-mortem investigation and care.

The witness testified that Mofiz told him that someone by the name of Mueen Uddin had abducted the intellectuals while another person called Ashrafuzzaman shot them to death. The witness said he later learned from newspapers that Chowdhury Mueen Uddin and Ashrafuzzaman Khan were the ones who directly participated in the abduction and killings of the intellectuals. The witness concluded his testimony by praying for justice for the victim’s family and punishment for the perpetrators.

The two state-appointed defense counsels then conducted the cross-examination by highlighting the fact that the witness was not present in person while the abduction took place and could not have identified the perpetrators. They denied that the two accused were involved in the abduction of the victim and asserted that they were not members of Al-Badr. They concluded by saying that the testimony of the witness is untrue, incorrect and based on inappropriate information.