Today the Tribunal heard matters in the following case:
- Chief Prosecutor vs. Zahid Hossain Khokon
Zahid Hossain Khokon
In the case of Zahid Hossain Khokon, the Tribunal recorded the testimony of Iaqub Mollah, Prosecution Witness 17 and Chunnu Sheikh, Prosecution Witness 18. Both testified in support of Charge 9. The state-appointed Defense Counsel cross-examined the witnesses. Thereafter, the Tribunal adjourned the proceedings of the case until 24 December 2013.
Examination-in-Chief of PW- 17
Iaqub Mollah, Prosecution Witness 17, testified that he was 15 years old and a student of class 6 in 1971. He testified that in 1970, Zafor and Khokon came to their village to campaign for Jamaat-e-Islami and he knew Khokon from that time on. Iaqub testified that on 31 May 1971 around 3 or 3:30 PM, he went to Purapara Bazaar to shop and saw Khokon and other Razakars and some of the Pakistani Army crossing the bazaar going towards their village. He testified that he felt frightened and hid himself in a jute field; from there, he witnessed his house and the houses of their village set ablaze and heard the sounds of firing. He testified that when the firing sounds stopped he came out from the jute field and went to the village. He testified that he did not find any person in their house,found their house burned, and went to hiding again.
Iaqub testified that the next morning, he returned to their house, and Guru Das informed him that Khokon shot his grandmother, Choto Khatun, beside the canal; his son Gofur Mollah buried her corpse. He testified that Chunnu Sheikh informed him that Khokon shot and killed his uncle Roton Sheikh. He also testified that he further came to know Barek Mollah had been taken outside of the mosque while he was reciting the holy Quran and shot to death by Khokon and his house was set on fire. Iaqub added that he along with Chunnu Sheikh, Gofur Mollah, and others, buried the corpses of Barek Mollah, Shofez Uddin and Manik Sharder. He had learned that Khokon had shot them while they were hiding. He testified that he heard that Razakars—including Khokon and Pakistani Army—looted Meherdia, Kodalia, and other neighborhood villages, and set the houses on fire as well as killed unarmed civilians. He acknowledged giving an interview to the investigation officer and testified that Khokon is not present at the Tribunal.
Cross-Examination of PW- 17
The state-appointed Defense Counsel asked the witness whether he could say in which month of 1970 the election took place. The witness replied he could not say. The Defense then asked the witness about when he saw Khokon and the Pakistani Army crossing the Purapara Bazaar, to which the witness replied around 4 or 4:30 PM. The Defense asked the witness who was with him when he saw Khokon and the Pakistani Army, to which the witness replied no one. Then the Defense asked the witness about the shopkeeper, and the witness replied that the shopkeeper was the son of Barek Mollah and all of them fled when they noticed the presence of Razakars and the Pakistani Army. The Defense claimed that Khokon had participated in the Liberation War while residing at Purapara camp. The witness stated that this is not true. The Defense claimed that only the Pakistani Army was involved with the looting, killing, and arson attack of Purapara village, and the witness denied this and added that Khokon led them. The Defense claimed that in the election of 1970, Khokon did not campaign for Jamaat candidate, he was not a member of Razakar and not even involved with any looting, arson attack, or killing. The Defense claimed that Khokon is a popular person and the witness gave false testimony alleging Khokon to undermine him being influenced by others. The witness denied all of these statements.
Examination-in-Chief of PW- 18
Chunnu Sheikh, Prosecution witness 18, testified that in 1971 he was around 15 or16 years old. He testified that in 1971 on 16th Joishtho (a month of Bengali year) around 3:30 or 4 PM, he and his uncle Roton Sheikh went to give water to their cattle in the nearby pond and saw Razakars including Khokon, Aynal and Atahar and the Pakistani Army coming towards their village. Chunnu testified that after observing this, he asked his uncle Roton Sheikh to flee and hid himself in the jute field. He testified that from the jute field he saw Khokon shooting near his uncle Roton Sheikh. He testified that after shooting his uncle, Khokon and his accomplices went towards their village and looted and set the houses on fire. He came out from the jute field after 2 hours and went towards his uncle’s corpse. Chunnu testified that he found his burned house and again went into hiding. He testified that he returned in the next morning at 8 AM and buried the corpse of Roton Sheikh along with his father, uncle Hashem and Yeakub Mollah. He testified that Khokon killed Barek Mollah by firing. He added that Gurudash and Yeakub Mollah told him that Khokon killed Hafez, Manik by firing and Gofur Mollah buried the corpse of his mother. He stated that Khokon killed 6 persons of their village by firing. He acknowledged giving an interview to the investigation officer and testified that Khokon is not present at the Tribunal.
Cross-Examination of PW- 18
The state-appointed Defense Counsel asked the witness whether he had participated in the Liberation War, and the witness replied negative. The Defense claimed that Aynal and Atahar were killed by freedom fighters during the Liberation War, and the witness admitted this. The Defense asked the witness how many shops were at the Purapara bazaar. The witness replied 100 to 150 shops. The Defense then asked the witness about at what time he returned to his home from the jute field where the witness claimed he hid himself, and the witness responded around 5 or 5:30 PM. The Defense asked the witness whether he met anyone when he returned home, and the witness replied that he met with Yakub and then replied that he met with his father and Gurudash. The Defense asked the witness with whom he hid again. The witness replied no one. The Defense claimed that the Pakistani Army killed the witness’s, but the witness stated that this was not true. The Defense claimed that the witness, in his initial interview to the Investigating Office, did not say that he heard from Gurudash that Khokon killed Choto Khatun. The witness replied that this was not true either. The Defense then claimed that Zahid Hossain Khokon was not a Razakar, did not visit Purapara village on the alleged date of occurrence, and did not kill any one; he was also not involved with any looting or arson attack and the witness gave false testimony accusing the accused because he was being influenced by others to undermine a popular personality. The witness denied all of these statements.