Today the Tribunal heard cases in the following matters:
- Chief Prosecutor vs. Salauddin Qader Chowdhury
Today the Tribunal heard an application regarding documentary evidence from Salauddin Qader Chowdhury’s Defense, as well as the sixth day of their Closing Arguments. Yesterday the Tribunal instructed the Defense to conclude their submission by today. However, the Defense failed to complete their arguments and requested additional time. The Tribunal adjourned the proceedings of the case until tomorrow and asked Defense to sum up their submission tomorrow within an hour.
Defense Application Regarding Documentary Evidence
During the beginning of today’s proceedings Defense counsel Fakhrul Islam filed an application requesting the Tribunal examine a certified copy of a writ petition filed by Satha Ranjon Sing, son of Nuton Chandra Sing (victim of Charge 3), in 1973. The Defense claimed that the writ petition did not claim that Salauddin Qader Chowdhury shot Nuton Chandra Singh. They further argued that Profulla Ranjan Singh, Prosecution witness 5, testified that his elder brother Satha Ranjon Singh filed a murder case in 1972 regarding the incident. The Defense emphasized that the version of the killing of Nuton Chandra Singh described in the First Information Report of that case differs from the allegations against Salauddin Qader Chowdhury in this case. The Defense submitted that they are not relying on the writ petition for the truth of its contents, but to show how the description of the killing has been changed. They argued that the Prosecution is required to prove the time, place and manner of the alleged crime beyond reasonable doubt but that the differences between the two accounts of the murder show that these facts remain in question.
The Defense began with their submissions on Charge 3. They argued that it is clear from the testimony of Gourango Singh, Prosecution witness 4, that he did not witness the alleged incident. Additionally, Sirajul Islam alias Siru Bengali, Prosecution witness 3, provided hearsay testimony. He only stated that he heard from Bibhuti that the latter had noticed the military coming towards Kundeshori Oisadholay on Hathhazari Rangamati road. Bibhuti told Siru Bengali that he climbed a road side tree and from there observed the Pakistani Army and Salauddin Qader Chowdhury entering Kundeshori. Bibhuti also said that the Pakistani Army dragged Nuton Chandra out from the temple and that Salauddin Qader Chowdhury told 2 or 3 soldiers to shoot Chandra. Then Salauddin himself fired another round of bullets at the victim, thereby killing Nuton Chandra. The Defense questioned how someone would be able to overhear such a conversation from the road side tree or even see the incident given the other prosecution witnesses claimed that the house of Nuton Chandra was a two storied building which would have blocked his view. The Defense submitted that Siru Bengali claimed that Bibhuti told his he heard Salauddin Qader Chowdhury ask soldiers to shoot at the victim, whereas Gopal Chandra Dash, Prosecution witness 14, testified that he heard Salauddin say that his father had instructed to kill Nuton Chandra. The Defense questioned how two different people could hear the same conversation but describe it in two different ways. The Defense stated that there are two different versions of the alleged occurrence which raised doubts as to the incident as a whole.
The Defense noted that Gopal Chandra Dash, Prosecution witness 14, testified after he saw the Pakistani Army and Salauddin Qader Chowdhury he and Brojohori Kormokar ran to the first floor and hid themselves Brojohori Kormokar’s room. However, the Defense stated that according to the description of Profulla Ranjon Singh, Prosecution witness 5, Brojohori did not have a room on the first floor. During the cross-examination Gopal denied that he told Profulla that he witnessed the killing of Nuton Chandra from the room of Brojohori, whereas Profulla had testified that he heard about the incident from Gopal.
The Defense submitted that Gourango Singh, Prosecution witness 4, testified that among Himangso Boiddo, Brojohori Kormokar, Monoronjon Singh, Gopal Dash (PW 14), Voskor Borua, Ahmed Boshor, Sotho Rangon Sing, and Profulla Sing (PW 5), only he and Profulla Singh are still allivingive. The Defense stated that this was clearly contradicted given Gopal Chandra Dash gave testimony. The Defense argued that only Profulla Ranjon Singh, Prosecution witness 5, testified that he heard from Brojohori Kormokar and Gopal Das (PW-14) that the Pakistani Army and Salauddin Qader Chowdhury asked his father, Nuton Chandra, for money and gold. On the other hand, neither Gopal (PW-14) nor Gourango (PW-4) said anything about such demands despite claiming to have witnessed the incident from the first floor.
The Defense noted that Profulla Ranjon Singh, Prosecution witness 5, testified that on 13 April around noon the refugees who were crossing the border near Ramgor began to ask him whether he had heard anything about his father Nuton Chandra. He claimed that around 4 pm Jotish Dor informed him that his father, Nuton Chandra, had been killed. Later, after returning home he heard about the killing in detail from Didarul Islam, Brojohori and Gopal. The Defense argued that this version of events was not credible given it takes between 7 and 8 hours to reach Ramgor from Kundeshori. Therefore it was implausible that Jotish Dor and others could have informed the witness about the incident so early. The Defense also attacked the testimony of Dr Anisuzzam, Prosecution witness 1, who stated that on the 20the or 22nd April he heard from Profulla that his father Nuton Chandra was killed by the Pakistani Army at the incitement of Salauddin Qader Chowdhury. The Defense noted that in contradiction to this statement, Anisuzzaman described the incident in his book ‘Amar Ekattor,’ but only mentioned that on 22 April he heard from Profulla that his father Nuton Chandra had been killed. He did not implicate Salauddin Qader Chowdhury in any way. The Defense also argued that if Profulla had in fact only been informed in detail about the killing after the war, it would have been impossible for him to describe the incident to Anisuzzaman on 22 April because he did not then have detailed knowledge of the event at that time.
The Defense also noted that Gourango Singh, Prosecution witness 4, testified that he heard about the killing in detail from Brojohori after his return to Bangladesh after liberation war.
The Defense submitted that Anisuzzaman testified that he heard that the Pakistani Army committed killings and atrocities in the adjacent Muslim and Borua (Buddhist) neighborhoods on the same day as the killing of Nuton Chandra Singh. Based on this the Defense argued that the Prosecution cannot claim that the Hindu community, as religious group, was the target of these attacks. They also highlighted that none of the witnesses who testified in the case filed in 1972 regarding the killing of Nuton Chandra testified in the present case except for Profulla. The Defense argued that the Pakistani Army targeted Kundeshori because the city supplied the bottles used to make cocktail bombs and gave shelter to freedom fighters. Additionally they argued that Kundeshori was targeted because the teachers of Chittagong University were based there and a lot of gold and money was held there. The Defense argued that the Prosecution’s case is based on fabricated evidence and their witnesses are unreliable and inconsistent.
The Defense next placed their submission regarding Salauddin Qader Chowdhury’s alibi. They read out Salauddin Qader Chowdhury’s testimony as Defense witness 1, during which he asserted that from 1966 to 1971 lived in Dhaka. The Defense noted that this was corroborated by the testimony of Qayyum Reza Chowdhury, Defense witness 3 and Nizam Ahmed, Defense witness 2. The Defendant also testified that he was never a member of any student political organization and that he left Dhaka for Karachi on the afternoon of 29 March 1971. Salauddin Qader Chowdhury testified that his cousin and friend Qayyum Reza Chowdhury (Defense witness 3) drove him to the Tejgaon Airport and that he was received in Karachi by his school friend Muneeb Arjumand Khan and Mr Mahmoud Haroon’s private secretary. Defense witness 3, Qayyum Reza Chowdhury, corroborated these facts when he testified that he dropped Salauddin at the Tejgaon Airport on 29 March at noon by a car, plate number 4893, owned by his brother-in-law. Additionally Nizam Ahmed, Defense witness 2, testified that on 28 March 1971 he and Qayyum took shelter in a house of a Swedish family which was just 2 roads away from the house of Salauddin Qader Chowdhury. Nizam testified that they stayed there 4 or 5 days and that during that time Qayyum informed Nizam that he had dropped Salauddin Qader Chowdhury at the airport. Defense concluded that Salauddin Qader Chowdhury’s alibi had been corroborated by Defense witnesses 2 and 3. Salauddin Qader Chowdhury testified that he stayed at the family home of Mr. Mahmoud Haroon, located at Seafield, Victoria Road, Karachi, until about the third week of April 1971.
The Defendant also testified that during his stay in Karachi he socialized with friends from Dhaka, including Mr Salman F Rahman, Mr Nizam Ahmed (Defense witness 2), Mr Qayyum Reza Chowdhury (Defense witness 3), Mr Arif Jiwani, Mr Osman Siddique, and Mr Rezaur Rahman, all of whom had taken shelter in Karachi because of the ongoing conflict in Dhaka in April 1971. Nizam Ahmed, Defense witness 2, testified that he flew to Karachi with Qayyum and Salman on the same flight on the 7th or 8 April 1971, intending to go on to Germany. Finding that he was not able to go to Germany, he went to Salman’s house in Karachi where he said that Salauddin Qader Chowdhury met with them a day or two later. This was corroborated by Qayyum Reza Chowdhury, Defense witness 3, who testified that on 8 April, 1971 he, Salman F Rahman and Nizam Ahmed went to Karachi and stayed at the family house of Salman F Rahman. Qayyum testified that after two days when he went outside to rent a house for his family members. He also stated that Salauddin Qader Chowdhury came to Salman F Rahman’s to meet with them.
The Defense submitted that Salauddin Qader Chowdhury’s alibi was further supported by Abdul Momen Chowdhury. Defense witness 4. He testified that in the second or third week of April 1971 he went to Karachi with the intention of going to Dhaka to find his wife and ended up staying in Karachi for two weeks. Momen testified while he was in Karachi he met with a school classmate, Habibunnabi Ashikur Rahman, who was working under the Sindh government. Momen testified that when he went to the office of Habibunnabi Ashikur Rahman he saw a man who Habibunnabi Ashikur Rahman introduced as Salauddin Qader Chowdhury. Momen further testified that during their conversation he found out that Qayyum Reza Chowdhury (Defense Witness 3) was also in Karachi.
Salauddin Qader Chowdhury also testified that his friend, Osman Siddique, whose father was the Vice Chancellor, helped Salauddin to get his transfer papers from Dhaka University. The Defense referred to the admission form (submitted as documentary evidence) in support of their claim that Salauddin Qader Chowdhury was a student of Dhaka University. The Defendant testified that he left Karachi for Lahore at the end of the 3rd week of April 1971 and stayed there with Mr Ishaq Khan Khakwani at his house in A-Azam, 7, Wahadat Colony Road, Lahore. Salauddin testified that he joined the Department of Political Science at the New Campus of Punjab University in order to complete his final year of Honors. The Defense referred to a document from Punjab University which stated that in August 1971 Salauddin Qader Chowdhury took the final exam for a BA in political science. Salauddin Qader Chowdhury also testified that while at Panjab University he met with his friend Shamim Hasnain, whom he knew since 1966, and who had joined the university in May.
The Defendant testified that he also visited Multan to attend the engagement ceremony of his former classmate, Nasir Khan Khakwani, in May 1971. Salauddin testified that in the month of June, July and August he remained in Lahore to prepare for his final examinations which were in August. The Defense referred to an envelope which was sent from India to Lahore addressed to Salauddin Qader Chowdhury at his address in Lahore. Salauddin further testified that he and Mr Shamim Hasnain spent a lot of time at the library of Punjab University during the preparation for their exams. The Defense also referred to an affidavit that they submitted from the mother of Shamim Hasnain regarding her recollection but noted that the Tribunal did not allow the affidavit to be entered into evidence.
According to the Defendant’s testimony, at the end of the examination in August 1971 a group of his friends including Ishaq Khan Khakwani, Riaz Noon, Naeem Akhoond, Salman Rahman, Siddique Khan Kanju, Muneeb Arjumand Khan and he went to Murree and spent about three weeks in mountainous region of the Northern areas including the Kaghan Valley. Salauddin testified that his father came to Lahore on 8 October 1971 and stayed at Ambassador Hotel where Salauddin saw him to bid him farewell on 10 October 1971. Salauddin testified that that was the last time he saw his father.
Finally, Salauddin testified that Ishaq Khan Khakwani, Naeem Akhoond and the witness prepared to drive to London from Lahore. Salauddin testified that they drove from Lahore and stopped over at Islamabad for lunch at his cousin/sister’s house. They reached Peshawar the same night where they stayed with a school friend, Mr Masud Akhtar Afridi. The witness testified that they crossed the Pakistan frontier at Torkham on 12 October 1971 and drove through Afganistan, Iran, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Austria, Germany Holland and France before reaching London around the 2nd week of November. Salauddin testified that his friend Ishaq Khan and Naeem Akhoond left London after two weeks, whereas he stayed ack in London and joined Lincoln’s Inn Bar association. He claimed that he remained in the United Kingdom until April 1974.