7 August 2013: ICT-1 Daily Summary – Chowdhury Defense Closing Arguments, Qasem Ali Pre Trial

 Today the Tribunal heard matters in the following cases:

  1. Chief Prosecutor vs. Mir Qasem Ali
  2. Chief Prosecutor vs. Salauddin Qader Chowdhury

Today the Tribunal was scheduled to hearing the Defense’s application for dismissal of the charges against Mir Qasem Ali. However, senior Defense counsel Abdur Razzak requested adjournment saying that after being granted privileged communication with Qasem Ali, the Defense had only 48 hours to prepare for the hearing. Additionally, the Defense noted that the Prosecution had only just served the Defense the type written copies of the illegible documents, numbering 38 pages. The Tribunal granted the request and adjourned the proceedings of the case until 18 August 2013.

In the Salauddin Qader Chowdhury case, Defense counsel Ahsanul Huq Hena again sought adjournment saying that he is still sick. He further stated that due to Eid his junior was on leave. Without anyone to assist him he said it would be difficult for him to continue. The Tribunal denied the request again saying that they cannot adjourn the case due to the personal problems or illness of a Defense counsel when there is another Defense counsel (Fakhrul Islam) available in the same case. Thereafter, Ahsanul Huq Hena continued the Defense’s Closing Arguments for the fourth day. After his submission Tribunal adjourned the proceedings of the case until 12 August 2013 and asked Defense to conclude the Closing Arguments on that day. 

Chief Prosecutor vs. Chowdhury
The Defense began their arguments by noting that the ICT Act of 1973 and the Collaborators Act existed at the same time. Neither of these Acts provided definitions of the crimes contained within them because the definitions of the crimes are available in the domestic law under the Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Code. The Defense argued that the amendment to the ICT Act which was carried out in 2010 intentionally misuses the Act and ignores the purpose behind its enactment. The ICT Act was inactive for 40 years. The Awami League and other parties who were in power during these 40 years did not raise the issue. Additionally, no case was filed under the ICT Act within the last 40 years, even when Awami League was in power. Given these facts, the Defense argued that the cases filed under the ICT Act 1973 are clearly designed to harass the political opponents of the ruling party. There has not been a satisfactory explanation for the delay of 40 years. Additionally, the Defense argued that the ICT Act cannot have retroactive effect to a point before the Constitution came into effect on 16 December 1972.

The Defense then turned its arguments to the evidence presented in the case. They questioned the accuracy of the fortnightly reports admitted as Exhibit-92, 93 and 94. They argued that it is evident from the font that these reports are electronically type written reports, when there was no electronic type machines in 1971. Additionally, the report says that in September the Accused was injured in a grenade attack in Chittagong while he was in a motor vehicle. The Defense argued that at that time Salauddin Qader Chowdhury was in Pakistan. Additionally, during cross-examination the Investigation Officer admitted that he did not personally seize this fortnightly report (Exhibit-92) for this case. The Defense questioned whether a document seized for another case can be used in this case. The persons who seized this fortnightly report are not witness of this case and so cannot be questioned. The Investigation Officer also admitted that he did not interview any member of the District Special Branch or the Special Branch offices of Dhaka and Chittagong. Nor did he interview MM Hasan, the author of the report (Exhibit-93 and 94), the DIG of the Police Special Branch.

The Defense questioned why the report was seized from Khustia and why it is not available in Chittagong or Dhaka from where it was issued. The Defense alleged that the reports are fake, fabricated and concocted and have no evidentiary value. The Investigation Officer admitted that he failed to investigate the plate number of the motor vehicle involved in the alleged grenade attacked. Additionally, the Defense claimed that the Investigation Officer admitted that he had no documents in support of his claim that the motor vehicle in the attack belonged to Chowdhury’s family and instead relied on the testimony of Prosecution witnesses to establish this alleged fact. However, the Defense noted that the Investigation Officer also admitted that the Prosecution witnesses failed to provide the plate number for the vehicle in grenade attack and could not actually confirm that the car belonged to Chwodhury. Finally, the Defense stated that the Investigation Officer admitted that he did not inquire about Salauddin Qader Chowdhury’s address in 1971. The Defense concluded that there is no evidence in support of the Prosecution’s claim that Salauddin Qader Chowdhury was in Goods Hill in 1971.

The Defense stated that all of the alleged crimes committed by Salauddin Qader Chowdhury occurred between 25 March and 16 December 1971. The Defense submitted that the Investigation Officer admitted that he scrutinized the PCPR of Kotoali and Rawzan police station of Chittagong and police station of Dhanmondi, Dhaka but did not find any record of a conviction of Salauddin Qader Chowdhury for any crime.