Tuesday, March 19, 2013

5 Nov 2012: 'Abduction' of Sayedee defense witness

The hearing started with Mizanul Islam, the defense lawyer informing the tribunal that one of their witnesses, Sukhranjan Bali was abducted from outside the tribunal gates.

[Also see the following pages:
Abduction of defense witness outside tribunal
Habeas corpus: rejected as not pressed
Prosecution press statement

Tribunal prosecution and registrar denial
Wife of Abducted witness speaks out
Evidence of Abduction: Look at the Tribunal CCTV pictures]

He said that he had come to the tribunal in a microbus at about 10.15 along with the defence counsel Monjur Ahmed Ansari and two other junior lawyers and the witness Shukhoronjon Bali but that at the entrance of the tribunal police stopped their vehicle, and required the lawyers and the witness Bali to leave the vehicle. He then said that some plain clothes police officer, introduced themselves as officers of the detective branch, came to the vehicle and asked about Bali. When the lawyers identified who was Bali, one of them slapped Bali in the face and he was taken away from us. He said that they informed the officers that the Tribunal had allowed Bali as a defense witness and they were taking him to the Tribunal so that he could give evidence. A car was standing nearby and he was taken away in that, he said.

He said that the whole incident took place in front of the police. He also said that the police did not allow the junior counsels, who were carrying my gown and case files, to enter the Tribunal compound. He said that the police were asking for an entry pass although every day the entry pass is issued at the entrance of the building. He asked: how can the junior counsels get entry pass if they are not allowed to come to the Building? This matter has been informed to the register of the Tribunal and he did not take any steps, he claimed. 'We do not know what happened to S Bali. We are concerned about his safety,' he said.

Abdur Razzaque, senior defense lawyer: To get the entry everyone is required to hold pass. The juniors are not even getting the entrance here at the Tribunal. Is it possible to run our activities in this environment? The witness has been abducted from the gate, how could it be possible to tolerate these things? What about Bali. You said that we are at liberty to bring him as DW. How he can be abducted when entering the tribunal.

Here is a summary of the interchange that took place
Chairman: we will look into this matter.

Razzaque: when? This defense witness is slapped on face in front of the defence counsel before they forced him inside their car. If you do not take any immediate step he may be tortured. We are concerned about his safety.

Chairman: we shall see.

Mizanul Islam: If a defense witness is abducted from custody of the defence counsels then who will protect us. Islam then discussed the background of Bali who had initially been a prosecution witness.

Chairman: Okay call the Registrar.

[Registrar arrived after a few minutes]

Chairman: Mr. Registrar, what is going on here actually?

Registrar: The security system has been strengthened from today.

Abdur Razzaque: But no one is supposed to be harassed for the security reason.

Chairman: We have given direction to strengthen the security. We will not allow the court to be made into a market place. The lawyers will come and learn from here but certainly you will not bring unlimited lawyers here.

Registrar: It has been done for the security reason.

Tajul Islam: (Aggressively) If you do harass someone in the name of security would it be supportable? No, it is not going to be done.

Chairman: You are not supposed to behave like this with the Registrar. If someone has been taken away by a civil dressed person from the gate, in that case we will look at the matter.

Abdur Razzaque: Let this matter be solved at first. To slap a witness is also a slap our face.
Chairman: Keep your faith upon us.

Abdur Razzaque: We have our faith upon the Tribunal but we would also like to have the solution of today’s matter.

Mizanul Islam: In case of strengthening the security you ought to have informed us earlier. With due respect to the Registrar I would like to say he could inform the matter of security before today so that- all of us would have understand the matter. The Prosecutors are getting into the Tribunal by their car but we have been stopped at the gate. Why this sorts of difference?

Chairman: Mr. Haidar Ali, please come forward.

Haidar Ali: I have also seen the security at the gate. But the matter was that- the name of Sukhronjon Bali was included in the list of Prosecution Witness but the defence has taken him as the defence witness. The question is whether the witness is permitted to be stand as a defence witness.

Chairman: The matter is different; we would like to know whether the person has been taken away from the gate?

Haidar Ali: We have not been informed about the matter.
Chairman passed the following order (summary below)
When the Tribunal sat in the room at 10:30 A.M. Mizanul Islam the learned counsel of the defence team submitted before the Tribunal that when he was entering the Tribunal with his juniors and a defence witness Sukhronjon Bali in his car a plainclothes policeman came and said only the senior counsel could enter with the car and others have to stop at the door. He submitted that Mizanul Islam has entered the Tribunal with his car and his junior didn’t get the entrance. The junior and the witness Sukhronjon Bali have been taken at the side of the gate by the civil dressed person and the junior was told that- he is not allowed to enter without pass.

We are concerned about the occurrence. A special arrangement has been made for security purpose. The lawyers have to come at the Tribunal with their Pass. We also find no reason why the numbers of lawyers present today are much more than another day.

We are very much concerned about the matter of taking Sukhronjon Bali away from the gate. We ask the Chief Prosecutor to immediately ask the higher authority to take necessary steps.

Mr. Haidar Ali also stated that he has observed the checking at the gate.

Now Mr. Chief Prosecutor is asked to go to his chamber to take necessary steps by consulting with the Police authority and take necessary steps. Also the Coordinator of the Investigation Agency is asked to look into the matter with the Chief Prosecutor.
Mizanul Islam requested that he include in his order the defense submission that Bali was taken in a RAB car, but the chairman said that this was not necessary

Abdur Razak asked the court to adjourn the day’s proceeding now for at least one hour to see what is the reply of the Chief prosecutor, but the chairman said that he would not adjourn and that he would take up a number of applications.

Razzak said that the tribunal should allow the defense some time to take instruction from the Accused in this situation. 'We expect you to order relevant authorities to produce Bali in one hour before this Tribunal.' he said

Chairman: No, we will not adjourn. We have showed our concern and directed the Chief Prosecutor to look into the matter. We will look into the applications now; we have a number of applications in our hand. And in the meantime we think the answer will come from the Chief Prosecutor. 

A number of applications were then heard (see here)

The Chief Prosecutor and the Coordinator of the Investigation Agency arrived.

Chief Prosecutor said that they have discussed about the matter of the witness missing with the officials of Ramna Police Stations at the Registrar’s office. They have stated that the security has been strengthened from today. Everyone is required to hold pass to get the entrance. And no one has been abducted from the Tribunal gate. They knew nothing about it.
Chairman: Are you saying about the civil dressed persons that- nothing has happened?

Chief Prosecutor: Yes the Police Officers have stated that nothing has happened within their knowledge.

Chairman: Okay, we will sit at 2:00 P.M. In the meantime we’ll consider the matter by sitting at our chamber.

Tajul Islam: No let the matter be solved first, then you may depart.

Mizanul Islam: Give us the scope to speak. [Angrily]
Then Tajul Islam went to the door of the Tribunal and came with some photographs which had been given by another lawyer and said that these were the photographs of the witness who was then being abducted by the civil dressed person.

Tajul Islam: Let the matter be solved first. [Angrily]

Then other members of the defence team started making bad sounds like- Liar, “Thuuh” (which means spitting), shame etc.]

Mizanul Islam: Hear us. [Shouting] 

Chairman: No we will not

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