Today the Tribunal heard matters in the following case:
- Chief Prosecutor vs. Ashrafuzzaman Khan & Chowdhury Mueen Uddin
Prosecutor Shahidur Rahman Prosecutor continued closing submissions in 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. Counsel reviewed the testimony of each of the witnesses whose testimony the Prosecution wished to rely upon in support of the charges against the Accused.
Charge 1 relates to the abduction of journalist Seraj Uddin Ahmed from his house is Chamelibag in Paltan area, Dhaka on 11 December 1971 and his subsequent killing. The Prosecution submitted that the Charge was supported by the testimony of PW-6, Towheed Reza Noor, who was the victim’s son, as well as by various pieces of documentary evidence exhibited before the Tribunal.
PW-6 was only 3 (three) years old in 1971, when his father was abducted and killed, sso the basis for his evidence were stories he heard about the incident from his mother growing up. The witness testified that his mother had described to him how several armed men with their faces covered by cloth had come to their house around 3:00 am on December 11. They asked the name of his father to confirm his identity, then blindfolded him and took him away at gun point.
Prosecutors argued that the involvement of the Accused in this crime was established by documentary evidence such as an article that appeared in the Daily Observer issue on 19 Decemebr 1971. The article contended that Al-Badr men had picked up martyred journalist Seraj Uddin. PW-6 also testified that, as an adult, he had been involved in the making of a documentary film called the “War Crimes File,” and in the process, had learned about the involvement of the two Accused with the entire series of events. Prosecutors argued that since the ties and connection of the two Accused with Al-Badr had been established by documentary evidence (as discussed on day 1 of closing submissions), the Court could infer that the two Accused must have given instruction for the killing of the victim.
Charge 2 concerns the abduction and killing of Syed Nazmul Haque, who was the chief reporter of Pakistan Press International (PPI). The charge is supported by the testimony of PW-7, Syed Mortuja Nazmul who is the son of the victim, and heard about the abduction of his father from others. Counsel stated that although this witness is a hearsay witness, he has three different source of information, which should make his testimony more credible. He heard about it from his uncle and a gentlman named Mr. Samad, both of whom are now dead. And he corroborated what her heard from these individuals with newspaper sources and other such documentary evidence.
In response to judicial questioning about evidence diretly linking the two Accused to the group that abducted the victim, Counsel cited contemporaneous newspaper articles, including: “Latest victim of Al-Badr” published in the Daily Observer on 23 December 1971, “Nazmul Huq: Victim of Badar Bahini” published in the Daily Morning News on 22 December 1971, and an issue of the Daily Purbadesh from 23 December 1971. Counsel submitted that all three articles show how Al-Badr were involved in the brutal killing of intellectuals, thereby linking the Accused to the crimes.
Charge 3 alleges the forcible capture and killing of ANM Golam Mostafa on 11 December 1971. The Charge is supportd by the testimony of PW-8, Mr. Golam Rahman Dulu, who gave a detailed account of the abduction of his brother. It is also supported by the testimony of the son of the victim, Mr. Anirban Mostafa, who gave testimony as PW-12. PW-8 gave a detailed account of the facts associated with the killing of the victim. The victim ANM Golam Mostafa was a senior editor and journalist at the Daily Purbadesh in 1971. Prior to that, he worked for other dailies such as the Daily Shangbadd and the Daily Azad and was also involved with left-wing politics. Although the witness could not positively identify the two Accused as being among those physically present when the victim was abducted, the Prosecution argued that Mueen held a position of authority over the Al-Badr men, and there was reason to infer that he had grudge against the victim, which lead to the subsequent targeted killing. Prosecutors further argued that the testimony of PW-12 corroborates the testimony of PW-8. PW-12 testified principally about the contents of contemporaneous newspaper articles from January 1972, which reported the involvement of the two Accused, Mueen and Ashraf, in targeted killing of intellectuals.
Charge 4 concerns the abduction and killing of Nizam Uddin Ahmed, who was the General Manager of Pakistan Press International (PPI) and a reporter for BBC. The charge is supported by the testimony of PW-23, Mr. Shaquat Nizam, who is the son of the victim. The witness conveyed to the Tribunal what he had heard from his mother and other senior members of the family about how his father was abducted by unknown perpetrators who identified the victim before abducting him. The Prosecution submitted that the charge finds further support and corroboration from contemporaneous newspaper articles, such as one in the Daily Purbadesh issue of 30 December 1971, exhibited as Prosecution evidence.
Charge 5 involves the 13 December 1971 abduction and killing of Mrs. Selina Parveen, who was the editor of the Daily Shilalipi. The victim’s son, Md Shumon Jahid, provided an emotional firsthand account as PW-3 about how his mother was snatched away from him. The witness was four or five years old at the time, so the prosecution acknowledged that he was unable to realize or recognize who the perpetrators actually were. Accordingly, the evidence he offered linking the Accused to the crimes was based on accounts he heard secondhand from others, such as a gentleman named Uzir Mama, who lived with his family at the time. PW-3 testified that Uzir Mama had recognized Ashrafuzzaman and Mueen as being the perpetrators upon seeing their pictures published in newspapers in early January of 1972.
The Prosecution argued that the charge is also supported by the testimony of PW-22, who gave an account of how the victim Selina Parveen was kept confined in the Mohammadpur Physical Training Institute and tortured there before finally being bayoneted and executed in the killing site, with other intellectuals. PW-22 was the only survivor, and had testified that the two Accused were present at the killing site when the intellectuals were being killed.
Charge 6 concerns the abduction and killing of seven academics from Dhaka University: Professor Gias Uddin Ahmed, Professor Dr. Serajul Haque Khan, Dr. Abul Khayer, Dr. Foyzul Mohiuddin, Professor Rashidul Hasan, Professor Anwar Pasha Professor Dr. Shantosh Bhattacharjya, and Dr. Md Mortuja. All of the victims were reportedly picked up from their Dhaka University residential quarters on 13 December 1971 by a microbus or mini-bus from the East Pakistan Road and Transport Corporation (EPRTC). Prosecution counsel argued that the testimony of various witnesses indicate that the victims were all picked up in a strikingly similar fashion by a small group of 5 to 6 armed Al-Badr men, between 8 am to 10 am. All were subsequently killed in the Mirpur Killing site, which became known as the Mirpur Mass Grave site. Numerous witnesses gave firsthand accounts of the incident. Almost all incriminated the two Accused, Mueen Uddin and Ashrafuzzaman Khan. Witnesses include PW-1 Ratna, PW-4 Dr. Enamul Haque Khan, PW-5 Professor Syed Anwar Hossain, PW-15 Omar Hayat, PW-16 Farida Banu, and PW-18 Rashedul Islam.
Counsel further called the Court’s attention to the statement of Abdus Samad Talukdar, given to the IO prior to the witness’ death, describing how he had been assigned by the Director General of National Security Intelligence (NSI) to investigate the killing of the intellectuals, and attesting to the fact that his investigation had concluded that Ashrafuzzaman was the chief executor of the Al-Badr’s killing squad. Based on this, the Prosecutor submitted that the charge had been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
Like Charge 6, Charge 7 involves the abduction and killing of another Dhaka University academic, Professor Mofazzel Haider Chowdhury. The alleged abduction took place on 14 December 1971 between 12:00 and 1:00 pm. PW-11, Iftekhar Haider Chowdhury, the nephew of the victim, testified in the case, describing how his uncle was abducted from his house. The charge was also supported by the testimony of Emeritus Professor Dr. Anisuzzaman, who gave testimony as PW-20, and PW-22 Delwar Hossain, the lone survivor of the targeted killing of intellectuals.
The Prosecutor submitted that the statements of these witnesses, coupled with the interview of Dolly Chowdhury, previously given to the UK Television Channel-4 documentary, “War Crimes File” (Material Exhibit-I) proved beyond reasonable doubt that the killing squad was administered by Al-Badr men. PW-11 had stated that his father Lutful at one point recognized Mueen Uddin when the piece of cloth covering his face fell. He had reportedly exclaimed, “Mueenuddin, you!” and the witness claimed to have heard Mueen admit his identity and say that he was the victim’s student. Based on this and the testimony of PW-22, noted above, the Prosecutor submitted that the charge had been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
Charge 8 relates to the abduction and killing of Professor AM Munir Chowdhury, professor of Bengali at the University of Dhaka on 14 December 1971, between 1:00 and 1:30 pm. Prosecution submitted that the charge is supported by the testimony of PW-2 Asif Munir, who is the youngest son of the victim, and PW-22, Delwar. As with most other witnesses in this case, PW-2 is a hearsay witness, having heard about the entire incident from his mother, his uncle Rusho and his elder brother Mishuk Monir, who very recently died in a traffic accident. Also like many of the other witnesses, PW-2 stated that his mother, uncle and brother had become aware about the alleged involvement of the Accused from a newspaper, the Daily Purbadesh, which had claimed that the two Accused served as the Operation-in-charge and Chief Executor of Al-Badr forces in the execution of the killing of intellectuals. The Prosecutor further relied upon the fact that the name of the victim appeared in the list of Ashrafuzzaman’s diary, “Jollad er Diary” (Diary of the Executioner). Based on this and the testimony of PW-22, noted above, the Prosecutor submitted that the charge had been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
The prosecutor then moved on to discuss Charge-9 concerning the killing of Shahidullah Kaisar. The wife of the victim, Mrs. Panna Kaisar gave testimony as PW-13. She gave a firsthand account of his abduction, but could implicate the Accused specifically based only on details she heard secondhand from one Khalek Majumdar, who was reportedly the chauffer of the van used to abduct the victim. Khalek had reportedly confessed about the involvement of Mueen and Ashraf, while being beaten following his capture.
Charge 10 involves the forcible abduction of Dr. Md Fazle Rabbi, who was a Professor of Clinical Medicine and Cardiology. His daughter, Dr. Nusrat Rabbee, who now resides in the United States, came to the tribunal to give testimony in support of the Prosecution case. The Prosecutor submitted that although the witness had to leave for the US before her testimony could be completely recorded, she had given a flawless firsthand account of how her father was abducted and brutally killed. The Prosecutor further relied upon an article by Rafiqul Hassan that had been published in the Daily Pakistan, issue of 25 December 1971, which had been exhibited before the tribunal.
Charge 11, the final charge, concerns the abduction and killing of Dr. Alim Chowdhury, who was an eye specialist and a progressive movement participant. The daughter of the victim, Dr. Farzana Chowdhury Nipa, gave testimony in support of the charge as PW-9. She recounted how her father was abducted from their residence at around 4 pm on 15 December 1971. As with other witnesses, PW-9 implicated the Accused based on what she subsequently read in several newspaper reports, including Daily Purbadesh articles from late December 1971 and January 1972.
Upon conclusion of the Prosecutor’s evidentiary review, the Tribunal scheduled the following day, 25 September 2013, as the final day for Prosecution arguments in the case against Mueen and Ashraf’s case. Tomorrow the Court will hear final Prosecution arguments on points of law, as well as any closing comments from Counsel.