Today the Tribunal heard matters in the following case:
- Chief Prosecutor vs. AKM Yusuf
Due to ongoing unrest and blockades, our researcher was unable to be physically present in court this day. Accordingly, our coverage was compiled from direct communication with the Tribunal and the Parties to the proceedings.
Despite the ongoing countrywide blockade, ICT-2 was scheduled to record the cross-examination of PW-15 in the case against AKM Yusuf. As has happened in previous days, junior defense counsel, Mr. Gazi M H Tamim informed the tribunal that the senior counsel, Mr. Syed Mizanur Rahman would not be able to appear in the court because of the blockade. The Tribunal closed the cross-examination of PW-15 after the junior defense counsel confirmed that he could not conduct the cross-examination in the absence of his learned senior counsel.
The Court then recorded the examination-in-chief of PW-16. The cross-examination of this witness has been scheduled to be recorded on 10 December 2013, although junior Defense Counsel did pose one question to the witness today.
Examination-in-chief of PW-16
The witness recounted that he listened to the speech of Bangabondhu on 7 March 1971 on the radio. After the declaration of liberation war on 26 March 1971, he started to prepare for participating in the war.
On 22 April 1971, the witness visited Kachua bazaar (marketplace) to buy some necessary household items. Around 12 pm, he heard that a meeting of Peace Committee was going on in Kachua C.O. Office. The witness went on to attend the meeting and heard the speeches from outside the auditorium. He saw Jalal Uddin Shikdar, Habibur Rahman, Shukur Ali, Sheikh Fazr Ali and others in the meeting. He noted that AKM Yusuf gave the closing speech at the end of the meeting. In his speech, Yusuf said that Awami League leaders, workers, and supporters are all pro-liberation and pro-Hindu forces, who are enemies of Pakistan. He said that they should be destroyed and advised the crowd to loot the belongings of the community. Pursuant to the instruction, a segment of the crowd rushed out of the meeting and attacked a few villages in the vicinity and started looting. The witness testified that he was in Kachua Bazar when this took place. Upon Yusuf’s instruction, the perpetrators left Kachua in a launch vessel along with their looted belongings.
The witness then stated that about ten villages, including Boro Andha, Khalishakhali, Maghia, Aria Mordon, Baroikhali, Dhopakhali, Gojalia etc were looting, arson, rape and among other crimes. The witness claimed that these crimes had been committed under the leadership of AKM Yusuf. He further stated that AKM Yusuf was the Peace Committee Chairman of greater Khulna area and gave speeches in meetings in other areas. Yussuf organized the anti-liberation people and trained them to form the Rajakar forces. He also gave them the necessary arms, ammunition, and uniforms and sent them to various areas. These members of Rajakar forces committed murder, mass killing, rape, looting, arson and various tortures to cause forced deportation of Hindus.
The witness further stated that Rajakar camps had been established in various places in the Kachua Police Station territory. A Rajakar camp was established in Biswas Bari of Doiboggo Haati. There were approximately 35 Rajakars in this camp. Upon AKM Yusuf’s instruction, about 35 Rajakars came to the Shakharikathi village in mid-July of 1971. They forced Hindu men to convert and invited Hindu men to feast on beef in the house of one Shona Doctor. They forced nearly about 200 Hindu men to eat beef. They then set fire in the area causing the Hindu’s to flee the village.
After he was tortured by Rajakar men, the witness was forced to leave for India. He received training for 21 days and came back to Bangladesh with other freedom fighters to fight the Pakistani forces and the Rajakars.
The witness went to his house on the morning of 5 November 1971. Upon returning, he went to the nearby Shakharikathi Bazar (marketplace) after lunch to collect information. He spoke to various people there and sent information to freedom fighter Nimai Babu. At this point, he saw that approximately 35 members of Rajakar forces enter the marketplace from the North side and block the roads from the other sides. The witness took shelter in the jungle next to the marketplace. From there, he saw Rajakars tie up the Hindu people and made them sit in a line. The witness then heard a whistle and immediate sound of gunfire upon the whistle blow. In total, 42 Hindu were killed. The witness could not tolerate this sight and immediately left the area. The following day, he found out that the Rajakars buried the dead bodies with the help of local Muslims in a mass grave.
The witness then identified the accused in the dock. He also said that he gave statement to the Investigation Officer on 10/01/2013.
(End of examination-in-chief)
In reply to a question posed by the defense counsel, the witness clarified that he never saw AKM Yusuf after the meeting in Kachua in 1971. However, he saw the accused in the television.
(Cross-examination to be continued)