Monday, October 12, 2015

British lawyer denies ‘manufacturing affidavits’ for war crimes trial


British lawyer denies Chief Justice ruling that he ‘manufactured affidavits’ for Salauddin  
David Bergman  
Toby Cadman, a British lawyer who represented a number of the men accused of crimes committed during the country’s independence war of Bangladesh, has denied that he ‘manufactured’ six affidavits ‘to save his client Salauddin Quader Chowdhury’, as stated in a judgment handed down by the appellate division.  
The statement was made by Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha in the judgment published at the end of September which upheld the death sentence imposed on the senior BNP leader for the commission of four offences of crimes against humanity allegedly committed on 13 and 17 April 1971. 
The Chief Justice said that it was 'beyond doubt' that Cadman had manufactured these affidavits. The six affidavits were given by individuals living outside Bangladesh, including a former prime minister of Pakistan, a former United States ambassador, and the chairman of one of the country’s leading media group, who claim that Salauddin was not in Bangladesh at the time these crimes were committed.  
The affidavits include one from Muhammad Osman Siddique, which says that he was on the same flight as the accused when he flew to Karachi on 29 March 1971. In another statement, Karachi-based Muneeb Arjmand Khan stated that he ‘received’ Chowdhury from the airport on that day and took him to ‘Mr Yusuf Haroon’s residence, known as Seafield.’  
He also says that he was also amongst those who took Chowdhury to Karachi airport when he moved to Lahore ‘after about 3 weeks’ to go to Punjab university. Amber Haroon Siddiqui, the chairperson of Dawn newspapers, also provided an affidavit which states that on arrival in Karachi, Chowdhury lived at her family house, (known as ‘Seafield’) for ‘about three weeks. … We used to have discussions at the dinner table where [Salauddin] would join me, my sisters and my parents,’ it stated.  
Salahuddin’s defence lawyers submitted the six affidavits to the International Crimes Tribunal a few weeks after the court had restricted to a maximum of five the number of defence witnesses who could be called to testify in defence of 23 offences commited on ten different dates. 
No similar restriction had been imposed on the prosecution, who called a total of 41 witnesses. 
In its judgment, the International Crimes Tribunal ignored the contents of the affidavits stating that the defence had ‘intentionally refrained from proving those documents by recalling defence witnesses.’ 
In the appellate division judgment, Justice Sinha – as part of his consideration of the affidavits - referred to the arguments of the Attorney General, Mahbubey Alam and various articles published in the online media concerning Toby Cadman’s defence work. He then concluded that, ‘These opinions sufficiently prove beyond doubt that Mr. Toby Cadman has been propagating against the trials by the International Crimes Tribunals as a Overseas lawyer for the offenders of War Crimes and crimes against humanity and he has manufactured all these affidavits to save his client Salauddin Qader Chowdhury.’ 
Toby Cadman, however, forcefully rejected the allegation. ‘I reject the allegations in their entirety. They are unwarranted and unsupported by any credible facts. I was only involved in the taking of one deposition and assisted the defence team generally on defence strategy,’ he wrote in a statement to Bangladesh Politico.  
‘If the Court was concerned as to veracity or legitimacy of the statements they could have easily called any of the witnesses to give live evidence where their statements could have been tested in an open adversarial process,’ he said.  
Bangladesh Politico has also spoken to four of the six people who gave affidavits from outside the country, and they all deny that Toby Cadman had any involvement in the preparation of these affidavits.

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