Due to funding uncertainties late in the year, our project was forced to take a hiatus in the month of October. During this time, our trial observers were not physically present in the courtroom to observe proceedings. Trial observation resumed in November, after additional funding was secured to continue the project. In the interest of continuity, we have compiled two brief posts—one for ICT-1 and the other for ICT-2— highlighting major developments in each of the cases that took place during our October hiatus. As we have done with Hartal coverage of the proceedings, the following information was compiled from official court records and communication with the parties to the proceedings.
This month, the Tribunal heard matters in the following cases:
- Chief Prosecutor vs. Salauddin Qader Chowdhury
- Chief Prosecutor vs. ATM Azharul Islam
- Chief Prosecutor vs. Motiur Rahman Nizami
- Contempt Proceedings
Salauddin Qader Chowdhury
In the case of Chief Prosecutor vs. Salauddin Qader Chowdhury, Tribunal 1 issued a verdict on 1 October 2013. Salauddin Qader Chowdhury was found guilty and sentenced to death for charges 3, 5, 6 and 8. He received 70 years imprisonment for charges 2, 4, 7, 17 and 18. He was acquitted of 8 charges, and the Prosecution did not submit any evidence on the remaining 6 charges. During the pronouncement of verdict, the Accused Salauddin Qader Chowdhury alleged that the verdict had already leaked and was available on the website.
ATM Azharul Islam
In the case of ATM Azharul Islam, the Tribunal set 12 November 2013 for passing an order on charge framing.
Motiur Rahman Nizami
In the case of Motiur Rahman Nizami, the Defense completed cross-examination of Investigation Officer, Abdur Razzak Khan, PW- 26. The Defense cross-examined this witness for four days: October 2nd, 3rd, 6th and 7th. On 8 October 2013, the Tribunal heard an application filed by the Prosecution to recall PW-26 for further Prosecution questioning. The Tribunal allowed the application and the Prosecution again re-examined Abdur Razzak Khan. After this, the Defense again cross-examined the witness before he finally concluded his testimony.
On 6 October 2013, the Tribunal passed an order limited the number of Defense witness to four witnesses.
On 8 October 2013, the Tribunal heard seven applications filed by the Defense.
- The first application was for recalling PW-11, Shamsul Huq Nannu. The Defense submitted that a recorded video clip of 18 September 2013 was available on the internet. In this clip, PW-11 claimed he did not make any statement implicating the accused Motiur Rahman Nizami. The Tribunal rejected the application.
- The second application was to review the 6 October 2013 order, which had limited the number of Defense witnesses to only four. The Defense asked that the Court increase this number to 7 in the interest of justice. The Tribunal rejected the application.
- The third application was filed under section 17(1) of the ICT Act. It sought to allow the Accused, Motiur Rahman Nizami, to personally explain his view of the charges brought against him. The Tribunal rejected the application, saying that the right given to the Accused under section 17(1) may be exercised by him appearing as a Defense witness.
- The fourth application sought to recall PW-26, an Investigation Officer the Defense had previously cross-examined. Counsel wished to cross-examine him further on remaining 223 exhibited documents. The Tribunal rejected the application, saying that the 5 days Defense was given to cross-examine the investigation officer previously had been sufficient.
- The fifth application sought to have the Tribunal record the prior statement of PW-26, admitting that he had heard during war of liberation that the Accused, Motiur Rahman Nizami, had been confined for 7 days and tortured by Anil. Defense counsel argued that this statement appeared in the IO’s deposition dated 7 October 2013, but it was never recorded as testimony in Court. The Tribunal rejected the application saying that the statement had been recorded.
- The sixth application was filed for permission to submit some additional documents under section 9(5) of the ICT Act 1973. The Defense argued that he could not submit all the defense documents on the date fixed for submission. He therefore sought leave to submit some additional documents. The Tribunal allowed the application, and permitted Counsel to submit two volumes of documents and one volume of CDs into evidence.
- The seventh application sought to recal PW-26 to cross-examine him about a report dated 26 September 1972, submitted by the SP Pubna to the Ministry of Home. The Tribunal granted this application.
On 21 October 2013, the Tribunal recorded the testimony of KM Hamidur Rahman Khandakar, DW-1, under both direct and cross-examination. On 22 October 2013, the Tribunal recorded the testimony of Md Samsul Alam, DW- 2, under both direct and cross-examination. On 23 October 2013, the Defense brought a witness named Abdus Salam Mukul as a Defense witness, but before recording his testimony, the Defense suddenly withdrew him from examination. On 24 October 2013, the Tribunal recorded the testimony of Nazibur Rahman, son of Nizami, as DW-4, under both direct and cross-examination.
On 27 October 2013, the Defense filed an application under Rule 46A of the International Crimes Tribunal Rules of Procedure, seeking to issue a summons upon Captain (Ret’d) John P Slater, to appear as Defense Witness. Mr. Slater currently works as Chief Investigator of a company called International Verification Services LLC, located in the United States. On 27 October 2013, the Defense filed another application under Rule 26(3) of the ICT Act for review of Order no 143 dated 08 October 2013. The order had rejected a previous Defense application to recall PW-11, Shamsul Huq Nannu, so that Defense could pose certain additional questions to the witness. The Tribunal denied both applications.
On 3 October 2013, the Prosecution submitted a petition under section 11(4) of the ICT Act to issue a contempt notice upon Advocate Khandakar Mahbub Hossain. The Prosecution submitted that, according to media reports, Advocate Khandakar Mahbub Hossain had held a press briefing after the pronouncement of judgment in the case of Salauddin Qader Chowdhury. In this briefing, Hossain had allegedly threatened that those who had been involved in the trial would be prosecuted. On 6 October, the Tribunal issued a notice asking Advocate Khandakar Mahbub Hossain to explain why contempt proceedings should not be brought against him. On 22 October 2013, Zainul Abedin appeared on behalf of Advocate Khandakar Mahbub Hossain and sought time to submit the reply and the Tribunal. Counsel was granted four weeks additional time to submit the reply on behalf of Advocate Khandakar Mahbub Hossain.
In the case of contempt against Dr. Zafrullah Chowdhury, Mahfuz Ullah and Channel 24, the Tribunal set 6 November 2013 for a formal hearing.