Today the Tribunal heard matters in the following case:
- Chief Prosecutor vs. Ashrafuzzaman Khan & Chowdhury Mueen Uddin
Prosecutor Shahidur Rahman began his closing submissions by reviewing background and procedural details of the case against Chowdhury Mueen Uddin and Ashrafuzzaman Khan. The two accused are being tried jointly in absentia. They are being represented by State-appointed defense counsels. The Accused Mueen is believed to be in London, while Ashrafuzzaman lives in New York.
Prosecution Shahidur Rahman began his submission with the historical background of the cases, prompting the Bench to asked the Prosecution not to re-iterate the general historical backgrounds of Bangladesh’s Liberation War in 1971, of which the court was already aware and had already given its findings in Judgments previously delivered. The Court urged counsel to briefly enumerate only the extraordinary facts particularly relevant for this case.
Counsel focused his overview on the events leading up to the killing of the intellectuals of Bangladesh, carried out in mid-December, at the eve of Bangladesh’s victory in the war of independence. Counsel submitted that this was done by members of Al-Badr forces, who identified the whereabouts of intellectuals (including professionals such as physicians, journalists, and writers) who were the Bangalees most capable of leading the nation. The forces named these individuals on a hit-list, infamously known as “Jollad er Diary” (Diary of the executioner), went to the houses of those intellectuals, rounded them up, and killed them, between the 10th and the 15th of December, 1971.
Having addressed the basis of the crimes alleged, Counsel then discussed the background of the two Accused, including their political affiliation prior to 1971 and during the war time. The first Accused, Chowdhury Mueen Uddin, is the son of late Delwar Hossain Chowdhury of Chadpur, under Daganbhuiyan Police station in Feni District. He is currently believed to be residing in Tottenham in London, UK. Mueen studied Master of Arts in Dhaka University’s Bangla Department and worked as a reporter for the Daily Purbadesh. The Prosecutor alleged that the accused Mueen was the central leader of Islami Chatra Shangha (ICS) and played a key role in Al-Badr forces during the war of liberation in 1971. Counsel alleged that the Accused took a pro-active role in the targeted killing of the Bangalee intellectuals, as Operation-in-Charge of Al-Badr forces at the material time.
In support of his arguments, Counsel referred to reports in evidence labeled “Operation-in-Charge Mueen Udddin,” published in the Daily Purbadesh issue of 29 December 1971. He also referred to the Daily Observer issue of the same day that published a report titled “Absconding Al-Badr Gangster,” containing a photograph of the accused. These newspaper issues had been exhibited before the Tribunal as documentary evidence.
The learned prosecutor also discussed the background of the other accused, Ashrafuzzaman Khan alias Naeb Ali. Ashrafuzzaman is the son of Ajahar Ali Khan from Gopalganj District, in Chiler Par village under Maksudpur Police Station. He now resides in New York, in the United States. Ashraf completed his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1970 from Dhaka University. The Prosecution alleged that during the liberation war, he acted as the Chief Executor of Al-Badr forces operating in Dhaka, and thus was responsible for execution of the Bangalee intellectuals at the eve of Bangladesh’s victory. Prior to that, he allegedly worked as the commander of one Gaju Salauddin Company, who also belonged to Al-Badr forces. Counsel contended that Ashrafuzzaman Khan contested in the Dhaka University’s Central Student Union Election in 1970 as the candidate of Islami Chatra Shangha (ICS). He cited two newspaper issues of the Dainik Shangram in support of this contention, one from 12 May 1971 and the other from 14 May 1971.
The prosecutor submitted that these two Accused took the lead in the abduction and the subsequent killing of the intellectuals. He argued that the role of the Accused was widely reported in contemporaneous news media. He referred, for instance, to to the Daily Purbadesh issue of 13 January 1972, which read “Help arrest the killer of intellectuals” and contained the photograph of Ashraf. Counsel stumbled a bit when responding to Tribunal questions about inconsistencies in the reporting of the birthplace of the accused Ahrafuzzaman. The 13 Janary 1972 newspaper listed Noakhali as his birthplace, while all other documents state that he was born in Gopalganj. After a long pause, the Prosecutor contended that Gopalganj was in fact the birthplace of the Accused.
Counsel called the Court’s attention to a number of other pieces of documentary evidence, such as Shahriar Kabir’s “Ekatturer Ghatok o Dalal ra ke kothay” (Where are the perpetrators and collaborators of Seventy One), and Salim Monsur Khalid’s Al-Badr etc., which had been exhibited by the Prosecution. The Prosecutor submitted that it had become evident from the documentary evidence and the testimonies of the witnesses that the two Accused had direct participation in the offences charged with.
Counsel concluded for the day by stating that he would address the evidence in support of each of the charges on the following day. The Tribunal scheduled the 24th of September for the next day of hearing the Prosecution closing arguments in Mueen and Ashraf’s case.