29 September 2013: ICT-2 Daily Summary – Ashrafuzzaman Khan & Chowdhury Mueen Uddin, Defense Closing Statements

Today the Tribunal heard matters in the following case:

1. Chief Prosecutor vs. Ashrafuzzaman Khan & Chowdhury Mueen Uddin

State-appointed defense counsel for Chowdhury Mueen Uddin, Ms. Salma Hye Tuni initiated her closing submissions in the case against Mueen and Ashraf.

Counsel noted that since her client is being tried in absentia, it was not possible for her to obtain any instruction from her client. Accordingly, she could not secure any defense witnesses to testify on her client’s behalf. However, she did rely upon portions of an exclusive interview her client gave to Al-Jazeera given earlier this year, in July.

Counsel did not seek to deny that the fact of the matter that Bengali intellectuals had been rounded up and killed in a brutal fashion in December of 1971. However, although evidence had shown that these killings were administered by Al-Badr forces, Counsel denied the involvement of Mueen with Al-Badr, and submitted that the Accused could not be held responsible for the events in question.  Counsel acknowledged that her client was in fact an ideological supporter of Islami Chatra Shangha (ICS), but argued that he was neither its leader nor a member at the time of the war. The counsel highlighted Mueen’s statement to Al-Jazeera that he had resigned from his political post in ICS following the military crackdown in 1971 and instead focused on journalism. Defense counsel stressed that supporting the existence of a united and undivided Pakistan must be distinguished from supporting the atrocities committed by the Pakistani occupation army during the war of liberation.

Addressing the evidentiary aspects of each of the charges, Counsel outlined a number of weaknesses and inconsistencies contained therein. She argued that Prosecution evidence, both testimonial hearsay and documentary evidence, failed to actually connect the Accused with the crimes committed.  Publication of her client’s photograph in the newspaper, alongside accusations that he had been involved in the killings, was not proof of guilt.  According to the Defense counsel, no evidence had been adduced showing Mueen actually instructed the targeted killing. She noted that most witnesses heard about the involvement of the Accused from others who were also not sure or could not actually identify the Accused as being part of the Al-Badr killing squad.

The defense submission is set to continue on 30 September 2013.