Tag Archives: limitation of defense witnesses

20 Feb 2013: ICT 2 Daily Summary – Contempt Proceedings, Kamaruzzaman Limitation of Defense Witnesses and Cross-Examination of PW 18

Today the Tribunal heard matters in the following cases:

  1. Contempt Proceedings: Jamaat Dhaka City Unit
  2. Chief Prosecutor vs. Muhammad Kamaruzzaman: Limitation of Defense Witnesses, Cross-examination of Prosecution witness 18 (Accused Present)

Today counsel for Jamaat’s Assistant Secretary General of the Dhaka city unit and a Central Executive member of the party appeared and requested ten weeks additional time to allow the accused to appear in court to respond to the contempt charges against them. The judges stated that ten weeks adjournment is unacceptable and they saw no reason why the defendants could not present themselves before the court in compliance with the order. The court then fixed 26 February 2013 as the next date for the matter and stated that the two implicated leaders, Selim Uddin and Hamidur Rahman Azad, must personally appear in the court on that day. The Tribunal initiated contempt proceedings against the two Jamaat leaders by suo-moto order because of comments allegedly made during public engagement on 4th February, a day prior to Mollah’s judgment. Selim Uddin allegedly commented in public that the tribunal should not exist anymore, while Azad allegedly threatened the start of a civil war if the Tribunal delivered an unfavorable verdict.

The court then moved to the Kamaruzzaman case and passed its order pertaining to the Prosecution’s application under Rule 46A of the Rules of Procedure, read with Section 11(3) of the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act 1973, seeking to limit the number of defense witnesses to avoid unnecessary delay in the proceeding. The Tribunal granted the Prosecution’s request and limited the Defense to four witnesses. They stated that only four witnesses would be necessary to support the Defense’s plea of alibi. The Chairman of Tribunal-2 said the defense bears no other burden to prove or disprove the case. The Tribunal asked the defense counsel to provide the prosecution with the names of such witnesses in the earliest opportunity.

The Tribunal then continued hearing the Defense’s cross-examination of Prosecution witness 18, the Investigating Officer Abdul Razzaq.

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19 Feb 2013: ICT-2 Daily Summary – Mujahid Examination of PW 13, Kamaruzzaman Cross-Examination of PW 18

Today the Tribunal heard matters in the following cases:

  1. Chief Prosecutor vs. Ali Ahsan Muhammad Mujahid: Examination of Prosecution Witness 13 (Accused Present)
  2. Chief Prosecutor vs. Muhammad Kamaruzzaman Prosecution Application and Cross-Examination of Prosecution Witness 18 (Accused Present)

The day’s proceedings began with the examination-in-chief of Prosecution witness 13 in the Mujahid case. 57 year old Shakti Shaha is the son of victim Upendra Narayan Shaha. In his testimony he emotionally described the killing of his father and many others from the Hindu community.

In the Kamaruzzaman case the Tribunal heard an application under Rule 46A of the Rules of Procedure, read with Section 11(3) of the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act 1973, filed by the prosecution requesting that the number of witnesses allowed to the Defense be limited so as to avoid unnecessary delay in the proceedings. The Tribunal stated it would provide its answer on February 20th. The Tribunal then returned to the cross-examination of the Investigation Officer (Prosecution witness ).  He was mainly questioned about the various prosecution documents exhibited in the case. The Defense sought to undermine the reliability of the documents and highlighted the various inconsistencies between witness statements given to the Investigation Officer and subsequent statements given by the witnesses in court.

Chief Prosecutor vs. Mujahid
Examination in Chief of Prosecution Witness 13
The Prosecution conducted their examination-in-chief of Shakti Shaha who testified about witnessing the killing of his father and others in the Hindu community. His testimony supported allegations under Charge 7. In particular he testified to the involvement of the accused in the local Peace Committee, his participation alongside other Biharis in the burning of dwelling houses belonging to the Hindu community, the killing of Upendra Narayan Shaha, Nupen Shikder, Biren Shaha, Nonita Ghosh and the rape and murder of Jhorna in the presence of the accused. The evidence also corroborated that given by Prosecution witness 12, Chitra Ranjan Shaha, who gave his testimony on 15 January 2013.

Shaha testified that the Pakistan Army entered Faridpur on 21 April 1971 and established military camps in various locations therein including Faridpur Circuit House and the district stadium. The witness stated that his family was afraid and took shelter in his sister’s house in Bakchor the same day. A few days later he said his sister’s house was looted and burned and they were forced to take shelter elsewhere.

He then testified that in the Bengali month of Boishakh at around 10 or 11 a.m., the accused Mujahid, Alauddin Kha and few others were seen in an open jeep heading towards the Board Office situated near the local market to attend a Peace Committee meeting. They left the meeting place around 2pm. Shaha said he came back to his sister’s house and climbed a fruit tree to pick fruits for food. He was in the tree when he saw Mujahid carrying a revolver and other Biharis carrying rifles headed towards the house. He testified he saw them tie up his father Upendra Narayan Saha and approximately 10 others. His mother offered money and all her gold jewelry in exchange for the release of her husband. They refused her pleas and took the detained to the Shree Angan. There Mujahid gave the signal to shoot and the Biharis opened fire. The witness saw from the tree that those lined up collapsed immediately after the firings.

The witness was very emotional and at this point began to cry loudly. The courtroom became silent. The Judge asked the Prosecution to calm the witness.

The witness testified that after half an hour he came down from the tree and saw his father lying dead. He said that one of the attacking party, Ohab Bihari, also hit his mother with rifle. A girl from Goalindo, named Jhorna was raped and shot to death. Another girl named Nonita Ghosh was also killed.

The witness confirmed that he gave his statement to the Investigation Officer during investigation. He stated that he has known Mujahid since childhood and that his brother Kiron Lal Shaha studied with Mujahid’s younger brother. The witness then identified Mujahid in the dock.

Defense Cross Examination
The Defense counsel began their cross-examination. They asked whether the witness remembered his date of birth and whether he had National voter ID card. The witness replied that although he gave the details of his date of birth at the time of the information collecting stage and preparation of the National Voter ID card, he was unable to remember the date at the time of questioning.

The cross-examination is scheduled to continue on the 26th.

Chief Prosecutor vs. Muhammad Kamaruzzaman
Prosecution Application for Limitation of Defense Witnesses
The Tribunal heard a Prosecution application under Rule 46A of the Rules of Procedure, read with Section 11(3) of the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act 1973 requesting the Court to exercise its power to limit the number of Defense witnesses for an expeditious trial. The prosecution counsel argued that the Defense has submitted a long list of witnesses for the purpose of delaying the judicial process. They stated that the court’s intervention is required to expeditiously reach the ends of justice.

In reply, the Defense pointed out that although the court has the power to limit the number of witnesses, the prosecution has no power to file this application advocating that the same be done. He further submitted that the numbers of prosecution witnesses and Defense witnesses should be proportionate in order for the process to be balanced. The court fixed February 20th for passing an order on this application.

Cross-Examination of Prosecution Witness 18
The Defense continued its cross-examination of Prosecution witness 18, the Investigation Officer Abdul Razzaq. He denied that he did not disclose where he obtained the documents in Exhibit-16 and that they haven’t been signed by the persons who presented them. He also denied the suggestion that the Prosecution did not take the statement of Mina Farah, author of “Juddhey Juddhey Jibon” (Exhibit-17), because she would not lie present false charges against the accused. The Defense noted that on pg 220 of her book, it is stated that word spread through radio transmission that her house was being used as the Al-Badr Head Quarters. The Defense alleged that the correctness of this statement has not been investigated by the Investigating Officer. The Defense also suggested that the book is unreliable because it was published 39 years after the war and is based on iperfect memories from the 1971 period. The Investigating Officer responded that he does not know the when the book was written but is aware of the fact that the author has been residing in the United States for a long time. He denied that the contents of the book were written upon the malicious direction of some people and that it is baseless. He also denied similar suggestions about the statements contained in Exhibit 8 and 15.

The witness was then asked about the contents of the book “Juddhey’r Araley Juddho” (Exhibit-19), by Professor Abu Sayeed, and the whereabouts of the author. The Defense noted that the author was a Minister during the last Awami regime and often participates in various television talk shows, yet has not been called as a Prosecution witness. They further highlighted that on page 162 the name of the accused is named as the Al-Badr Chief Organiser, but the area under his leadership is not specified. The book also states that Ashraf Hossain was the organiser in Mymensingh. The Defense alleged that the Investigating Officer did not investigate where the author collected the information contained in his book.

The Defense then addressed documentary evidence contained in Volume-2 of the Investigation Report. Specifically they noted that pages 433, 558, 584, 632, 657, 662, 673, 674, 684 and 771 contain the names of many people including the name of Mr Kamran but does not contain the name of the accused Kamaruzzaman. Additionally the Defense noted that pages 1144-1159 of Volume-3, as well as sections of Volumes 4-7, contain details of many atrocities but do not implicate the accused. The Defense also stated that the alleged copy of Kamaruzzaman’s Al-Badr ID Card, enclosed in the 6th Volume, does not also contain his signature. The accused’s name is also not mentioned on page 2710 of the 8th Volume which contains a newspaper report on Jamalpur Al-Badr and Al-Badr’s activities.

The Defense noted that two cases were filed against the accused outside of the ICT: Case No. 60 of 25 January 2008 in Pallabi Police Station and Case No. 34 of 31 December 2007 in Keraniganj Police Station. The Defense asked why the Investigating Officer did not meet the informants and witnesses from those cases and why he made no inquery into the contents of the First Information Report (FIR) from those cases. The witness replied that he had not done so because he was not in charge of investigation of those cases. (The Defense was prevented from seeing the Case Diary in the hands of the Investigation Officer. However, the same was given to the judges for inspection).

The IO denied the suggestions put forward by the Defense counsel that Kamaruzzaman was never the Chairman of Mymensingh Islami Chatra Shangha and stated that the involvement was not found in his investigation but came to his knowledge via a fax dated 20 January 2012 from the Police Super of Special Branch of Jamalpur district. He disagreed with the suggestion that the information of this fax was not dependable.

The witness said that his investigation revealed that the accused was the Al-Badr commander of Sherpur and that he finished his Secondary School Certificate in the year 1967 from JKM Institution. The witness acknowledged he did not know in which year the accused complete Class-10. Questions posed by the Defense showed that the Investigatin Officer did not visit the school of the accused and did not talk to any of his fellow students, teachers or members of staff. The Defense counsel then suggested that the witness’ findings about the accused becoming associated with Islami Chatra Shongho was baseless.

Finally, The Defense suggested that shahid  (martyr) Bodiuzzaman was in reality not a freedom fighter. The argued that Bdouzzaman trained liberation fighters and but died for a different reason (the same had been suggested to PW-6). The Investigating officer denied this but admitted that he did not talk to anyone who trained under Bodiuzzaman.

The cross-examination of the witness is scheduled to continue next week.

Weekly Digest: Issue 4 – February 10-14, 2013

This week’s digest details the ongoing progress of the Gholam Azam, Nizami, and Chowdhury cases in Tribunal 1. The Tribunal also heard matters regarding the ongoing investigations against Abdus Shobhan and Mubarak Hossain. In the Gholam Azam case the Prosecution completed its cross-examination of Defense witness 1 and the Tribunal scheduled February 17th for Closing Arguments, despite requests from the Defense for more time to produce additional witnesses. In the Chowdhury case the cross-examination of Prosecution witness 17 took place in-camera, and direct and cross-examination of Prosecution witnesses 19 and 20 was completed. The Nizami case experienced delays, as Defense counsel were unable to reach the Tribunal due to ongoing violence in the Palton neighborhood of Dhaka (where their offices are located).

Tribunal 2 heard the cross-examination of the Investigating Officer in the Kamaruzzaman case, who appeared in Court as Prosecution witness 18. In the  Mujahid case The Defense also cross-examined Prosecution witness 1. In the Abdul Alim the Defense cross-examined prosecution witness 10. The Tribunal additionally granted additional time to Home Minister Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir to respond to contempt proceedings against him.

Read the full report here: Weekly Digest, Issue 4 – Feb 10-14

17 Feb 2013: ICT-1 Daily Summary- Gholam Azam Closing Arguments, Chowdhury Cross-Examination of PW 20

Today the Tribunal heard matters in the following cases:

  1. Chief Prosecutor vs Gholam Azam: Hearing of 3 Applications, Beginning of Prosecution Closing Arguments (Accused not Present)
  2. Chief Prosecutor vs Salauddin Quader Chowdhury: Cross-examination of PW 20 (Accused Present)

In the case of Gholam Azam the Tribunal heard three applications filed by the Defense regarding the presentation of further defense witnesses, permission to produce expert foreign witnesses, and a request for bail. The Tribunal rejected the first application and said it was not necessary to address the second two applications at this time. At that point they instructed the Prosecution to begin its Closing Arguments. Chief Prosecution Gholam Arief Tipo began with the historical background of the Liberation War. Thereafter, Tribunal adjourned the proceedings of the Gholam Azam’s case until tomorrow, February 18th.

In the afternoon the Tribunal heard the conclusion of the Defense’s cross-examination of Sheikh Morshed Anwary, prosecution witness 20. Salauddin Quader Chowdhury himself conducted the end of the cross-examination. Continue reading