4 August 2013: ICT-1 Daily Summary – Chowdhury Defense Closing Arguments

Today the Tribunal heard matters in the following cases:

  1. Chief Prosecutor vs. Salauddin Qader Chowdhury

In the Salauddin Qader Chowdhury case Defense counsel Ahsanul Huq Hena presented the second day of their Closing Arguments.

The Defense argued there is no link between Salauddin Qader Chowdhury and any political party or auxiliary force that was involved in atrocities during the 1971 war. The Defense referred to the testimony of the Investigation Officer who asserted that Fazlul Qader Chowdhury, father of Salauddin Qader Chowdhury, was the associate of the ruling party of Pakistan and that Fazlul supported the Pakistani occupation forces and assisted them and directly or indirectly committed crimes with his followers. The Investigation Officer additionally claimed that Salauddin Qader Chowdhury was inspired by his father’s political ideology and with the help of Pakistani occupation forces he and his followers also directly or indirectly committed mass killings and Crimes Against Humanity in Chittagong. The Defense argued that one cannot assume that sons always follow the ideology of their fathers. They argued that the Investigation Officer failed to present evidence in support of his claims. There is no document to show that Salauddin Qader Chowdhury followed the political ideology of his father or participated in the election campaign of his father.

The Defense additionally argued that the Investigation Officer’s claims are malicious and false and that he himself had stated that he is both the informant and the Investigating Officer. The Defense argued that are numerous examples of fathers and sons whose political ideologies differed significantly. The Defense noted that Fazlul Qader Chowdhury was expelled from the Convention of  the Muslim League and succeeded by Abdul Jabbar Khan, father of Rashed Khan Menon. Menon was part of the 14 Party Alliance and did not share the same ideology of his father. The Defense submitted that the Investigation Officer had admitted that Salauddin Qader Chowdhury was not involved in politics, did not belong to any student wing of any political party, and was never a member of the Muslim league or a member of a Peace Committee in 1971. The Defense also asserted that even Fazlul Qader Chowdhury was not a member of Central Peace Committee in 1971, nor he was a commander of Razakars.

Secondly, the Defense argued that Salauddin Qader Chowdhury had no nexus with the Pakistani Army. After the 1970 election when some of the seats of National Assembly fell vacant due to their absence, the Raozan Constituency was not vacated favoring Fazlul Qader Chowdhury. Professor Khaled was still a member of the National Assembly of Pakistan. Defense submitted that on 17 May, Yahya Khan froze the funds and assets of the Convention of Muslim League through a Presidential proclamation. When Yahya Khan came to Dhaka for the last time in 1971 he met several political leaders of East Pakistan, but did not meet with Fazlul Qader Chowdhury. The Defense claimed therefore that it is abundantly clear that the party of Fazlul Qader Chowdhury, Convention Muslim League, had a strained relationship with the rising junta in Pakistan. The Prosecution’s claim that Salauddin Qader Chowdhury, being merely 21 years, had a good and close relationship with the Pakistani Army is absolutely false, concocted and without any logic given the testions between his father and the government of Pakistan in 1971. The Defense submitted that the Sindhi police guarded Fazlul Qader Chowdhury under the direction of the Pakistani government in order to prevent him from acting against the interest of Pakistan. The Sindhi police were controlled and commanded by S. P Chittagong and their services were placed under the IG of East Pakistan.

The Defense objected to Prosecutor Tureen Afroz’s use of a photo of Sree Nuton Chandra Singh, victim of Charge 3, in her written submission and submitted that this is prohitibed. The Defense additionally alleged that Prosecutor Tureen Afroz  used the words ‘Guidelines for the Tribunal’ in her written submission, and stated that it is inappropriate for the Prosecution or Defense to give direction to the Tribunal. The Defense noted that the Prosecution referred to cases of various international Tribunals including the Nuremburg trials, but argued that such cases are not applicable in this case as the relevant laws and the formation of those Tribunals are not similar to the ICT. Additionally, Order 17 clearly described the ICT as a domestic Tribunal and therefore only domestic case law is applicable.

The Defense denied that Goods Hill was a torture camp. They argued that the Prosecution failed to produce a single witness from the neighborhood of Goods Hill who claimed to see any victim taken to Goods Hill or coming out from Goods Hill with injury. When questioning the Investigation Officer about the absence of such witnesses, he replied that he did not think they were necessary. The Defense claimed that nothing found from Goods Hill even after the end of the war provided evidence to support the Prosecution claim that Goods Hill was a torture camp in 1971.