Today the Tribunal heard matters in the following cases:
- Chief Prosecutor vs. Ashrafuzzaman Khan and Chowdhury Mueen Uddin
Today Tribunal 2 recorded the testimony of Prosecution witness 17 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 the background identification of Ashrafuzzaman Khan.
Prosecution Witness 17
Mr. Firoz Khan, a resident of a village neighboring Ashrafuzzaman Khan’s home village, testified as Prosecution witness 17. The witness stated he is the son of the late Manik Khan and comes from Batikamari village of Moksedpur, Gopalganj. He stated that he is an Assistant Lecturer of the local high school. He was 17 years old in 1971 and a student of Class-10 of the same school. He also stated that he was a freedom fighter and received training in India in July of 1971. He came back to Bangladesh in December 1971.
The witness told the Tribunal that Ashrafuzzaman, the son of Azahar Khan, was a resident of the neighboring village Choto Bhatara. The witness stated that Ashrafuzzaman participated in the election campaign on behalf of PDP (Pakistan Democratic Party) candidate Mr Abdus Salam. The Accused was a Dhaka University student and an active member of Islami Chatra Shongho (ICS). Firoz Khan stated that the Awami League candidate MA Khayer won that election by a large margin.
The witness stated that on the 16th of December 1971, Ashrafuzzaman returned to his home village to hide. At that point the witness and others in the locality learned that he had been involved in the killing of intellectuals. Accordingly, he said he and others tried to catch Ashrafuzzaman but failed to find him. A few days later, police came to look for him. The witness learned that criminal cases had been filed against the accused in Ramna and Mirpur Police Stations in Dhaka. The witness further said that photographs of Ashrafuzzaman were published in various newspapers, identifying him as a perpetrator. At this point the Tribunal asked if the witness had seen the newspaper reports himself. The witness replied that he did not but that he heard from others that such reports had been published.
The witness then stated that he heard from one Lutfur Rahman, the cousin of Ashrafuzzaman Khan, that the Accused had escaped to the United States via India and Pakistan. The witness concluded by saying that he personally knew Ashrafuzzaman as a resident of his neighboring village.
The state-appointed Defense counsel for Ashrafuzzaman asked the witness details about his time as a freedom fighter. Firoz Khan replied that he fought in Sector-9 under Major Jalil. He specified that the distance between his house and that of Ashrafuzzaman is one mile. The witness said he learned of Ashrafuzzaman’s affiliation with ICS when the accused participated in the PDP candidate’s campaign during the 1970 election.
The Defense asked why the witness did not mention or implicate Ashrafuzzaman in the book he wrote about the liberation war, Moksedpur ey Muktijuddho. The witness replied that the book is about events that happened in the Moksedpur area and since Ashrafuzzaman was in Dhaka, his name has not been referenced in the book. The Defense concluded its cross-examination with the suggestion that Ashrafuzzamann was in fact in his home village during the war and could not have been in Dhaka. The witness denied this.
State-appointed Defense counsel for Chowdhury Mueen Uddin declined to cross-examine the witness as the second Defendant was not referenced in the witness’ testimony.