17 September 2013: ICT-2 Daily Summary – Abdul Alim, Defense Closing Arguments; Ashrafuzzaman Khan & Chowdhury Mueen Uddin, PW-25 Examination

Today the Tribunal heard matters in the following cases:

  1. Chief Prosecutor vs. Abdul Alim
  2. Chief Prosecutor vs. Ashrafuzzaman Khan & Chowdhury Mueen Uddin

Defense counsel for Mr. Abdul Alim continued his closing submission for the third day before Triubal 2. The Tribunal also recorded the testimony of the second Investigation Officer of the case against Chowdhury Mueen Uddin and Ashrafuzzaman Khan. The IO gave testimony as PW-25.

Alim: Defense closing submission on points of law

Defense Counsel, Mr. Ahsanul Haque Hena, continued his legal submissions on behalf of his client, Abdul Alim. He commenced his submission for the third day by discussing the issue of Shaon Lal Bajla’s Godighar (sitting room).  He then proceeded to discuss specific evidence pertaining to each of the charges, in turn.

Shaon Lal Bajla’s Godi ghar

The Godi Ghar (sitting room or trading office) of Shaon Lal Bajla has been portrayed by the Prosecution as a central location for planning the commission of atrocities in Jaipurhat area.  Prosecutors alleged that decisions about where and how to launch attacks were taken in this office, that it was used as a training camp, as a Peace Committee Office, as a Rajakar camp, and as a local headquarter of crimes. Defense counsel challenged this depiction of the office, questioning how an office so small could house such activities. Counsel then proceeded to discuss specific points of evidence submitted in support of each of the charges against the accused.

Charge 1

Charge 1 concerned the deportation as a crime against humanity of one Meher Uddin and his inmates, which allegedly took place on 20 April 1971 in Dom Doma village, under Panch Bibi Police Station, in Jaipurhat. Counsel noted that the Prosecution relied upon the testimony of PW-2, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 14. The principal witness was PW-14, Meher Chowdhury, who was the son of the victim. Defense Counsel submitted that the evidence provided by this witness was unreliable, as it amounted to little more than hearsay from Advocate Anisur Rahman and Shamsul Huda Chowdhury. Neither Anisur nor Shamsul appeared before the tribunal to support the allegations against Alim. Defense Counsel further challenged the witness’ testimony by highlighting a number of internal inconsistencies.

Turning to PW-2 and PW-5, Counsel argued that these were both unreliable witnesses who never directly mentioned the name of the accused Alim in their statements to the Investigation Officer. Counsel submitted that PW-6 gave testimony, which was immaterial to the charges at hand, while PW-7 and PW-8 offered testimony that was entirely hearsay, without mentioning the source the information.

Consel submitted that the Court should find the charge unsupported by the evidence, because the Prosecution case effectively relied on a single eyewitness, whose testimony should be doubted due to internal inconsistencies with prior statements made to the IO.

Charge 2

Charge 2 alleged genocide for large-scale killing of members of the Hindu community on 26 April 1971 in Hindu populated villages of Koroi Kadipur locality. The prosecution relied upon the testimonies of PW-4, 24, 25 and 26. Defense Counsel argued that witnesses on this Count appear to have been coached by the Prosecution to give fabricated evidence. Counsel pointed out that on 26 April 1971, there were no Peace Committee or Rajakar forces in Jaipurhat sub-division at the time of the massacre, and yet all of the witnesses mentioned either the Peace Committee or Rajakars.  Counsel further argued that the testimony of PW-20 and PW-4 should be doubted, as they substantially contradicted one another. Counsel suggested that these witnesses held grudges against the Accused, after having been defeated by Alim in the Upazilla election in 1990. This, he submitted, made their testimony unreliable.

With regard to the testimony of PW-24, Defense Counsel argued that the witness had simply invented facts. Although PW-24 claimed to have seen the Accused accompanying the Pakistan Army or Peace Committee on the date of the crime, Defense Counsel argued that the testimony was unreliable because the witness had been unable to give any basis for his ability to recognize members of the Peace Committee.  Mr. Hena, the Defense Counsel, argued that the witness had been tutored by the Prosecution, and came to testify with malicious motive. Similarly, Counsel argued that the testimony of PW-25 was also coached and unreliable. The witness had stated that he saw people coming with chaad-tara flag, and that he thought that they were Abdul Alim’s men. Counsel pointed out to the court that this testimony was nothing more than an assumption, not evidence in support of the Prosecution’s case. Lastly, Defense Counsel argued, the testimony of PW-26 had no probative value, since PW-26 did not see the Accused specifically, and claimed to base his recognition of Peace Committee members on having seen men bearing a moon and stars flag.

Charge 3

Charge 3 charged substantial aiding and contributing to the commission of murder as a crime against humanity on 8 June 1971. Defense counsel argued that the two witnesses called in support of this charge, PW-15 and PW-19, did not provide evidence sufficient to maintain the guilt of the Accused. PW-15, Counsel argued, was unreliable, while PW-19 had in fact denied the involvement of the Accused, and therefore been declared by the Prosecutor as an adverse witness.  Having failed to substantiate the charge with adequate evidence, the Prosecution did not prove Charge 3 beyond a reasonable doubt, Defense Counsel argued.

Defense summing up is scheduled to continue on 18 September 2013.

Uddin and Khan: Examination-in-Chief of PW-25

In the case against Chowdhury Mueen Uddin and Ashrafuzzaman Khan, the Court continued recording testimony from PW-25.  The witness is one of the two investigation officers of the case against the Accused. The Prosecutor conducted the examination–in-chief of the second IO. PW-25 stated that he comes from Ganganagar Village of Fatulla in Narayanganj. He had been transferred to the International Crimes Tribunal’s investigation agency on 28 Novemmer 2010. Before this, he served the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP).

During his examination-in-chief, the Investigation Officer affirmed that the Accused, Chowdhury Mueen Uddin, is the son of Late Delwar Hossain Chowdhury of Chadpur, Dagon Bhuiyan in Feni District. He stated that the accused currently resides in London, UK. The IO testified that he had questioned a total of 27 witnesses and perused various books, reports, journals and articles in the course of his investigation. He also visited relevant sites, and took photographs and sketch maps. As part of gathering documentary evidence, he visited Bangla Academy on 15 May 2012, and collected a total of 127 copies of newspaper issues from librarian Md Mobarak Hossain, under two different seizure lists.