Today the Tribunal heard matters in the following case:
- Chief Prosecutor vs. Motiur Rahman Nizami
In the case of Motiur Rahman Nizami, the Defense concluded cross-examining Prosecution witness 23, Sayeda Salma Mahmud. She testified in support of charge 16. Thereafter, the Tribunal adjourned the proceedings of the case until tomorrow.
Cross-Examination of PW-23
The Defense opened cross-examination by asking the witness about her education and her siblings. During the examination-in-chief, the witness had testified about her aunt Modira’s husband. The witness had testified that her uncle’s name was Lieutenant Commander Moazzem Hossen, that he was a Nevi officer, and that he had been accused in the Agortola Conspiracy case and killed in the morning of 26 March 1971. On cross-examination, the Defense asked the witness to confirm that her aunt Modira was also the aunt of the current BMA secretary, Iqbal Arsenal, and that Dr. Ashzad was the father of Iqbal Arsenal. The witness confirmed that this was true. When asked about Dr. Ashzad’s links to the Jamaat-e-Islami political party, the witness replied that she was unsure. The Defense asked the witness whether her husband, Dr. Azharul Huq, was an activist in any political party or student organization at the time of liberation. The witness again replied that she did not know. When asked whether she was personally acquainted with student politics of 1970s, or involved in any political party or student organization that opposed the liberation war, the witness replied in the negative. The Defense also questioned the witness about the owner and employees of the Saida Pharmacy, where her husband was employed at the time of liberation. The witness replied that she did not know whether they were in support of the liberation war.
With regard to the 15 November 1971 incident when her husband was taken away and killed, the Defense sought further details from the witness. Counsel asked the witness about the owner of the laundry where her maid servant was reportedly heading when stopped by the cordon. The witness could not recall the name of the owner of the laundry. When asked about Sahadat, she responded that he was from Gouronadi of Barishal, but she informed the Court that after 1971 she had no further communication with him.
The Defense also pressed the witness for further details about the individuals who reportedly informed her that her husband’s corpse had been identified at Dhaka Medical College. Aasked the whether Dr. Kamruzzaman and Dr. Bobi were still alive, the witness replied that she has had no communication with them, so she cannot say. Counsel asked the witness who brought the corpses to the hospital. The witness replied she had heard that two police brought the corpses to the hospital morgue.
The Defense asked the witness whether she had heard the name of Dr. Ehsanul Karim. The witness replied that she had heard that he was an activist of Islami Chhatra Shangho (student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami). The Defense asked the witness whether she had heard that her husband met with Motiur Rahman Nizami. The witness replied that she had not heard this. Counsel asked the witness whether she could remember the arrest of a person from the Damdam Airport of India and who was brought to the Ramna Police Station in connection with the killing of his husband. The witness replied that she could not remember.
Defense Counsel questioned the witness extensively about who she may have spoken to about her husband’s killing, subsequent to his death. Counsel suggested that the witness may have communicated with Zohir Raihan, Hasan Imam and Amirul Islam after the liberation. The witness replied that she could not remember. Defense then asked whether the witness had given an interview to the Gono Todontho Commission about the killing before she publish a book titled Budhijibi Sharok Grontho in 1983. The witness replied that she had not given any interviews before 1983, but she confirmed that she did give an interview to Sahriar Kabir in 1997 or 1998, before he published his book titled Bangladeshe Moulobad and Shamprodaikota. She further confirmed that she had said in this interview that Al-Badr members took her husband upon the instruction of Al-Badr High Command Motiur Rahman Nizami.
Defense counsel concluded cross-examination by accusing the witness of inconsistencies between her initial IO interview and her testimony recorded in Court. Counsel claimed that the witness had not previously said that the Al-Badr members had informed her that they were acting on orders from High commander, Motiur Rahman Nizami, to take her husband, Dr. Azharul Huq and Dr. Humayon Kabir, nor that Motiur Rahman Nizami had planned to kill the intellectuals. The witness denied the allegations, and asserted that she had indeed said all of this to the IO. The Defense accused the witness of giving politically motivated false testimony. The witness denied the accusation.