4 November 2013: ICT-1 Daily Summary –Motiur Rahman Nizami, Closing Statements; The Economist Magazine and Human Rights Watch, Contempt Proceedings

Despite a 60-hour nationwide Hartal that kept ICT-2 out of session today, ICT-1 proceeded to hear matters in the following cases:

  1. Chief Prosecutor vs. Motiur Rahman Nizami
  2. Chief Prosecutor vs. The Economist Magazine
  3.  Chief Prosecutor vs. Human Rights Watch                                               

Contempt Proceedings Against Human Rights Watch

Today, Md Assaduzzaman appeared on behalf of Human Rights Watch and informed the Tribunal that he had received power of Attorney from the organization. He further submitted that Human Rights Watch had received notice but had not gotten a copy of the order dated 2 September 2013, nor any documents relating to the contempt proceedings. He sought 8 weeks time for preparation. The Tribunal granted this, adjourning the proceedings of the case until 8 December 2013.

Contempt proceedings against The Economist

In the contempt proceedings against The Economist, the Tribunal issued a notice in December 2012, asking the South Asian Bureau Chief and the Chief Editor to reply why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against them. Appearing on behalf of The Economist, Barrister Mustafizur Rahman Khan had submitted a reply to the Tribunal, which has been pending ever since. Today, 4 November 2013, had been fixed for the contempt proceedings, but they were pushed back to 8 December 2013 for further proceedings of this case.

Motiur Rahman Nizami

In the case against Motiur Rahman Nizami, the Prosecution made their closing arguments for the second day. The Prosecution made submission about the role of Nizami in 1971, as well as submissions in support of Charge 1. Thereafter, the Tribunal adjourned the proceedings of the case until tomorrow, 5 November 2013.

Al-Badr force and their activities 

The Prosecution submitted that the Al-Badr was an auxiliary and paramilitary force of Pakistani Army and referred Exhibit 31, a book titled Sectarianism and Politico- Religious Terrorism in Pakistan by Musa Khan Jalajai. The Prosecution also submitted that Al-Badr consisted of the members of Islami Chhatra Shangho, who were given special training to carry out special operations. From 15 November to 15 December 1971, they carried out special operations in killing intellectuals. The Prosecution submitted that the testimony of Prosecution witness 13, Shamoli Nasrin Chowdhury, also supports his submission. The Prosecution put forward that as Chief of Al-Badr force and President of the Islami Chhatra Shangho, Nizami delivered inciting speeches on 3 August 1971 in a meeting of the Chittagong City Unit Islami Chhatra Shangho at the Muslim Institute of Chittagong, on 22 August 1971 in a meeting organized in remembrance of Al-Madani at the Islamic Academy Hall, on 8 August 1971 in a meeting of Dhaka City Unit Islami Chhatra Shangho, on the occasion of the Defense Day, and on 10 September 1971 at Jessore district Razakars headquarters. In support of the alleged inciting speeches of Nizami, the Prosecution referred Exhibit-42, a book titled Ekattorer Dosh Mash by Rabindranath Tribedi, and pointed that page 341 described Motiur Rahman Nizami as Chief of Al-Badr and President of Islami Chhatra Shangho. The Prosecution put forward that in presence of Nizami at those meetings, Islami Chhatra Shangho activists provided communal speeches and warned not to publish, advertise and sell books written by Hindus. The Prosecution submitted that Al-Badr was formed in June of 1971 and received training from Pakistani Army. The Counsel read out from the book and stated that the source of that information is mentioned the Daily Bangla dated 16 December 1972. The Prosecution submitted that the Al-Badr members made a list of intellectuals, which they used to kill.

The Prosecution relied on a book titled Ekkatorer Ghatokera ke Kothai, Exhibit-35. The Prosecution argued that this book supported his submission that Nizami provided inciting speeches toward the members of Islami Chhatra Shangho. Counsel then referred to Exhibit-43, a book titled Pabna Zillar Muktizuddher Kotha by Johirul Islam Bishu, and suggested that Nizami is described as head of Al-Badr. The book further stated that Al-Badr force was formed to kill the freedom fighters and specially the intellectuals. The Prosecution asked the Tribunal to take this as judicial notice. The Prosecution submitted that Dr Azharul and Dr Humayon Kabir were the first victims of Al-Badr, which is described in a book entitled Bangladesh-a Moulobad and Shamprodaikota, Exhibit 30.  The Prosecution argued that Nizami made all of Al-Badr’s decisions and was in a position to control their activities, but failed to do so. Moreover incited to commit crimes.

About the Accused

The Prosecution submitted that Nizami passed his Dakhil examination in 1955, his Alim examination in 1959, and his Fazil examination in 1961. He received his Kamil degree in Fiqh from Madrasha-e-Alia in Dhaka in 1963 and graduated from Dhaka University in 1967. The Counsel then put forward that he joined Islami Chhatra Shangho when he was a student of Madrasha-e-Alia in Dhaka. The Prosecution stated that during the liberation war, Nizami was the chief of Al-Badr and the president of Pakistani Islami Chatra Shangha, the student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami.

Evidence in support of the case

Regarding documents and witnesses, the Prosecution submitted that among 77 witnesses, 23 witnesses testified before the Tribunal in support of 16 charges. Among these 77 witnesses, 12 were additional witnesses for whom applications under Section 9(4) were submitted and allowed by the Tribunal. The Prosecution submitted that, in total, 26 witnesses testified before the Tribunal, and among them, two were seizure list / formal witnesses and one was the Investigation officer. The Prosecution stated that these 23 witnesses are neutral witnesses; some of them are victims and some of them are family members of the victims. The Prosecution argued that a single witness is enough to prove the charge and a hearsay witness also carries the probative value. Thereafter, the Prosecution started to place their arguments on the basis of charges.

Charge No. 1

The first charge alleged that Nizami intended to eliminate Kasim Uddin, the head moulana of Pabna Zilla School, and that by his instruction, Kasim Uddin was arrested by the Pakistani Army. It was alleged that after the arrest, Kasim Uddin was taken to the army camp at Nurpur WAPDA powerhouse in Pabna and was tortured in the presence of Nizami. It was alleged that on 10 June 1971, Kasim Uddin was taken to the Ishamoti River bank along with two others, and all three were killed. This charge accused Nizami for the arrest, detention, torture and murder of Kasim Uddin and for committing crimes against humanity as specified in section 3(2)(a) of the ICT Act 1973 and section 4(1) and 4(2) of the ICT Act 1973.

In support of this charge, the Prosecution read out the testimonies of Prosecution witness 4, Habibur Rahman Habib, and Prosecution witness 21, Yusuf Ali Biswas,. The Prosecution put forward that Prosecution witness 21 is the eyewitness and Prosecution witness 4, a hearsay witness, corroborated the testimony of Prosecution witness 21.

Habibur Rahman Habib, Prosecution witness 4, testified that he is Pabna district Muktijuddha Commander. He stated that in 1971 he was an SSC examinee and that until April 10, 1971 Pabna was free zone. He testified that on April 11 the Pakistani occupation force took control of Pabna and that he went to India with his older brother Shahidullah and 300 or 400 students. He stated that after the completion of 45 days of training, they left for Pabna.

Habib testified that when he was in India, he came to know that the headmaster of Pabna Zilla School Moulana Kasimuddin was killed. He stated that Shibli is the son of Moulana Kasimuddin and that he was his close friend. Habib further noted that on the night of August 19, he went to Shibli to convey his sympathy and Shibli narrated the whole incident of his father’s killing to him.

Habib testified that Shibli told him that on June 4, 1971, his father Moulana Kasimuddin said to his family members that he is not safe in his house because Motiur Rahman Nizami made a list to kill people and his name was on this list. He attempted to hide himself and board a bus from Tematha. However, some Jamaat leaders held him on the way and handed him over to the Pakistani army. Habib testified thatKasimuddin was then taken to the Nurpur army camp. He said that Shibli told him that his father was physically and mentally tortured in that camp. He testified that Shibli, his mother, brother and sisters went to Nurpur camp and begged for Kasimuddin’s and that Shibli’s family members also begged mercy from Nizami to free Kasimuddin. Habib noted that in reply Nizami said to Shibli’s mother to “tell your husband to give training to the freedom fighters”. Habib further remarked that Kasimuddin would train students with dummy rifles during the Oshohojog Movement at Pabna Zila School. Habib testified that on June 10, 1971, Kasimuddin was taken from Nurpur army camp to the bank of Madhopur Ishamoti River, where the Pakistani occupation force fatally shot Kasimuddin and two others and left them in a bamboo bush. Habib said that he came to know from Shibli that his family went to the spot and found the grave of Kasimuddin. He also learned from Shibli that Motiur Rahman Nizami was present at the spot when the Pakistani occupation force was killing Kasimuddin and two others.

Habib testified that, at that time, Motiur Rahman Nizami was the president of Islami Chhatra Shangho. He testified that on Nizami’s order, Al-Badr force and Pakistani occupation force committed the atrocities in Demra, Dholauri, Atgharia, Pakshi, Roppur, Wapda pump house, Shatbaria and Bharara among many other places. Habib testified that when they caught Al-Badr and Razakars, they took their ID cards, which had the signatures of Al-Badr chief Motiur Rahman Nizami. He claimed that Al-Badr was so powerful that they could detain, beat, or kill any person; they could also hand women over to the Pakistani camp. He stated that they had so much power that even the Pakistani army was afraid of them.

Yusuf Ali Biswas, Prosecution witness 21, testified that he joined the Pakistani Army on 30 December 1970 and discussed his training after joining. Yusuf stated that Moulana Subhan, Motiur Rahman Nizami, Moulana Ishaq and others formed the Peace Committee.

Yusuf testified that on 9 June 1971 he went to the village home of his friends Arshed Ali, Sekendar Ali, and Kuddus at Madhpur. According to his testimony, he stayed at the home of Arshad Pramanik and at breakfast at Madhpur bazaar with Kuddus and Arshed the next morning, he and his friends saw two pick-up motor vehicles of the Pakistani Army from Pabna stopped at the Madhpur intersection. He stated that he saw Motiur Rahman Nizami sitting beside the Major in the front and three blindfolded Bengalis in the back with Pakistani soldiers. Yusuf noted that after some time, Nizami gestured them to go toward Sathia and the two pick-up vehicles started to go in that direction. He testified that after 15 or 20 minutes, he heard firing sounds coming from the Ishamoti River bank. Yusuf stated that, feeling unsafe, they hid behind a straw hut and checked whether the vehicles were coming back. After 10 or fifteen minutes of the firing, they saw the vehicles come toward Pabna and again saw Nizami beside the Major.

Yusuf stated that after noticing the vehicles leave for Pabna, they came out of their hiding place and went back to Madhpur bazaar. He remarked that after hearing about the killing beside Ishamoti River, they went tothe spot with the locals. He testified that he found the corpses of three Bengalis in a hole. He further testified that the corpses were bullet riddled and bloody. Yusuf said that he removed the blindfolds and identified one as head Moulana Kasimuddin of Pabna Zilla School, but could not identify the other two. He testified that he heard from others that the President of Islami Chhatra Shangho, Motiur Rahman Nizami, along with the Pakistani Army killed them. He stated that he asked the locals to bury them following the Islami Sharia and left for Madhpur bazaar. The Prosecution argued that the Defense could not shake the credibility of either of these two witnesses during the cross-examination.