Today the Tribunal heard matters in the following case:
- Chief Prosecutor vs. Motiur Rahman Nizami
In the case of Motiur Rahman Nizami, the Tribunal recorded the examination-in-chief and cross-examination of Yusuf Ali Biswas, Prosecution witness 21. He testified in support of charge 1. Charge 1 alleged that the accused Motiur Rahman Nizami was responsible for the arrest, detention, torture and murder of Kasim Uddin and two others. It charges the accused with crimes against humanity specified in section 3(2)(a), 4(1) and 4(2) of the ICT Act 1973.
Yusuf Ali Biswas, Prosecution witness 21, testified thathe joined the Pakistani Army on 30 December 1970. Yusuf testified that he undertook 6 months of training at Chittagong EBRC. On 30 March 1971, midway through his training, he returned home to Pabna from EBRC and met with the local Awami League leaders to discuss ways to liberate the country with them. Yusuf testified that they trained youth for couple of nights in a chor (a naturally rising place in the middle of a river) located at the south side of his house. Shortly thereafter, the Pakistani Army took control of Nagarbari and Pabna. After setting up camps at Pabna, the Army formed a local Peace Committee. Yusuf testified Moulana Subhan, Motiur Rahman Nizami, Moulana Ishaq and others belonged to the Peace Committee. The committee reportedly made an area-wide list of Awami League leaders, EPR police and freedom fighters, and supplied the list to the Pakistani Army. The Army raided the areas listed, and killed many of the individuals named. Yusuf testified that the Pakistani Army detained some of the listed people, participated in an arson attack, and raped women.
According to Yusuf, on 9 June 1971, he went to the village home of his friends Arshed Ali, Sekendar Ali and Kuddus at Madhpur. He spent the night and went with his friends to the Madpur bazaar for breakfast the next morning. While they were taking breakfast, they saw two pick-up trucks from the Pakistani Army coming from Pabna. The trucks stopped at the Madhpur intersection, and the witness saw Motiur Rahman Nizami sitting beside the Major in the front of the truck, while three Bengalis sat in the back with several Pakistani soldiers. Yusuf testified that the three Bengalis were blindfolded. The witness reportedly saw Nizami gesture for the pick up trucks to go to Sathia, and the vehicles started to move in that direction. After 15 or 20 minutes, he heard the sounds of firing coming from the bank of the Ishamoti river. Feeling unsafe, he and his friends hid themselves behind a straw hut and were checking whether pick-ups are coming back. 10 to 15 minutes after the shots were fired, they saw the pick-ups coming towards Pabna and saw Nizami beside the Major, but not the three Bengalis in the back.
He and some locals went toward the river and discovered the corpses of three Bengalis in a hole. The witness testified that the corpses were bullet riddled and bloody. He removed the blindfold and identified one as head Moulana Kasimuddin of Pabna Zilla School. He could not identify the corpses of the other two. The witness testified that he heard from others that the President of Islami Chhatra Shangho, Motiur Rahman Nizami, along with the Pakistani Army, had killed all of these three people. He testified that he asked the locals to bury them following Islamic Sharia and left the spot for Madhpur bazaar. On 15 June he left for India to continue training. He acknowledged giving an interview to the Investigating Officer and identified Nizami in the dock.
The Defense asked the witness about his personal details and education. During the examination-in-chief, the witness testified that he joined to the Pakistani Army on 30 December 1970. The Defense asked the witness how old he was when he joined. The witness replied that he had been 24 years old. The Defense claimed that the witness was sacked from Bangladesh Army without financial benefit, and the witness admitted this was true. He testified that, except the provident fund, he did not receive any other benefits.
The Defense examined the witness about his March 1971 Awami Leage meetings. Counsel asked with whom the witness first discussed participation in the liberation war. The witness replied that he discussed it with Motiar Shardar of his village. The Defense also questioned the witness about the youth training he had mentioned during examination-in-chief. The witness explained that he gave training to the locals taking a Chinese stain gun from Sahjahan master. Defense Counsel then pressed for further details of the targeted kill list he had mentioned. Asked whether any killing took place at his village specifically, the witness replied that before he left for India, the Army went to their village and killed 200 to 300 people.
Regarding the 9 June 1971 incident, the Defense asked the witness from where the alleged Army pick-ups came and in which direction they went. The witness replied that the pickups came from west side and went towards east side and stopped at Madhpur intersection. The Defense challenged the witness’ account, claiming that in the front of a pickup there is only one seat beside the driver. The witness acknowledged that this is true, but claimed that the seat was large enough for two people to sit on that single seat. The Defense asked how the witness could see people sitting in the back when army pick-ups were covered by triple. The witness clarified that three sides of the pick-ups were covered by triple but the back side was open. The Defense asked the witness while he was taking tea in which direction he was facing and whether he saw the face of Nizami. The witness replied that he was facing at south side and saw the face of Nizami.
Without concluding the examination, the Tribunal adjourned the proceedings of the case until the following day, 11 September 2013.