Monday, December 19, 2011

13 Dec 2011: Howlader cross-exam day 3

Before the third day of cross examination into the first witness Mahbubul Alam Howlader, Abdur Razzak the head of the defence legal team rose and mentioned that the prosecution had filed formal charges against Gholam Azam and that the court will soon decide whether to take these matters into cognisance.

He said that the moment the court decides to initiate proceedings then he will make an application for bail, and would like to be present.

Nizamul Haque, tribunal chairman responded by saying that he could assure the lawyers that on the three days that he will not be present, those matters will not come for cognisance.

The prosecution Haider Ali then went before the judges to give some missing pages from a copy of volume. The chairman said, ‘Mr. Haider Ali, I expect these things will not happen in future.’

Tajul Islam, the defence lawyer then said (jokingly) this is why we asked not to rush (with the trial). The chairman replied that they will speed up it up further if possible, and Islam responded by saying that ‘Care must be taken so that no one is prejudiced.’

Original statement of witness
Day one of cross examination
Day two of cross examination

Below is an unofficial translation of the cross examination. (Notes and translation undertaken by Onchita Shadman. Every attempt has been made to ensure accuracy, but there may be some small omissions.)
Defence: Go to page 209 [of volume 3][
The prosecution objected to the defence refering to this document saying that this was a prosecution document and they had not yet exhibited it. He pointed to rule 58 (1) which stated that, ‘Evidence that is produced by the prosecution or the defence shall be suitably identified, proved by the respective party and marked with consecutive numbers as exhibits.’

Initially the chairman said that he could not see why the witness could not be questioned about the document but finally it was decided that the defence could only ask the witness whether the signature on that document was his or not and not questions on the contents of the document.

Defence: Look at page 9. You have given a list of people killed by the Peace Committee at Baleshwar Bedi.

Haider Ali objects about asking questions on content, but the chairman said that the defence has only stated that a list was given. He didn’t mention any name of the list. Haider Ali asked that his objection be recorded and the chairman accepts this.

Defence: Baleshwar Bedi is at the bank of Baleshwar River?

Witness: It was known as Pirojpur Old Kheyaghat (boat port).

Defence: Baleshwar Bedi is not inside of Zianagar Upazila (subdistrict). How far is it from Umedpur village?

Witness: from which area of the village?

Defence: That list mentions that BIsha Bali has been killed at that river.

Haider Ali against objects to questions about content.

Witness: The ministry had sent us letter asking us to make a list of murder victims. We didn’t go into details of how each of them was killed. That they were tied to date tree and killed is true, but in that stage we thought (listing) the murder alone will suffice.

Justice Kabir: The court has a question for you. You’ve said that 26 people were killed in Baleshwar Bedi. Is that true?

Witness: No (26 people not killed in the same place) Justice Kabir: Why did you give those names then?

Witness: I have taken account of how many people were killed (in total) by them.

Defence: At the end of that list, you have described the death of Ibrahim Kutti. The description says, “Ibrahim Kutti, son of deceased Gafur Sheikh, village Badura, district and subdistrict Pirojpur, was captured from his in-law’s place in Parerhat and taken to Parerhat port, where he was tied to a pole and shot dead.

Witness: I have learnt about this incident

Defence: Is it there (in the statement)?

Witness: yes.
Haider Ali again objects about the question and there is further argument about what questions can be asked about the document. Haider Ali again raises the issue of rule 58 and that the prosecution has not yet admitted the statement. Justice Zaheer asked the prosecution why the defence cannot base their questions on a document submitted by the prosecution side, and said that the court will not only consider what the witness has said in court, but also what he’s said in other places. The defence pointed out that the prosecution has relied on this document taken at the time of congisance, and framing charges, that the witness is the best person to answer questions on this document, not the investigation officer is not, and this is document which the prosecution wants to rely upon. The chairman asked the prosecution, ‘Who can the defence ask about its content?’ and the prosecution Haider Ali responded that the defence should bring their own witness and not question the prosecution witness.’ It was finally decided that questions about the context of the document could not be asked.

Defence then again raised their discomfort with IO’s presence in the courtroom, and Justice Zaheer said that this decision has been passed by the honourable chairman.

The cross examination continued.
Defence: Mahbub Saheb, on 2/2/2011 you have filed a fact-based report on government’s demand?

Witness: The report, me and Upazila Nirbahi officer filed together?

Defence: yes.

Witness: I haven’t done this consciously. I had given report consisting of detailed information, but the Upazila Nirbahi Officer had asked me to file a concise report. So I and Upazila Nirbahi Officer have filed this report together and the report is not solely mine.

Defence: So you don’t know whether the statement in that report is correct?

Witness: I have answered this before

Defence: When did you get the letter demanding that report?

Chief Prosecutor: We want (to have a look at) that document.

Tajul Islam: It is prosecution’s (document). Why are you so scared of your own document?

Witness: Around one month before submission.

Defence: Did you go the Upazila office yourself to collect the letter

Justice Zaheer: Is that important?

Tajul Islam: We want to find out how the document had reached him. To find out whether he had done this voluntarily.

Justice Zaheer: If you look at what he’d said a little earlier, “on demand”.

Defence: After getting the letter, did you call a meeting at Muktijodhdha Sangsad of Zianagar?

Witness: yes

Defence: Did you give any resolution at the meeting

Witness: There was a resolution

Defence: How many people were present in that meeting?

Witness: 11 members, 1 to 2 are often left out. 8 to 9 people were present.

Defence: Your Upazila Muktijodhdha Sangsad does not have any government member?
Chief Prosecutor: What do you mean by government member?

Justice Zaheer explains that it’s government official.

Witness: There are government run institutions. Ours is elected.

Defence: Since there are no members who are government officials, there were no government official present in that meeting?

Witness: Not present.

Defence: The report does not have signature of a government official at any stage of its preparation and delivery.

Witness: Not true. It has my and Nirbahi officer’s signatures.

Defence: The receiver of that letter was Upazila Nirbahi officer, Zianagar, Pirpjpur?

Witness: yes

Defence: You were the sender

Witness: The UNO had come to me to take it.

Defence: We have heard that you passed Metric examination?

Witness: didn’t pass

Defence: Did you appear in the exam?

Witness: After 70, once the war of 71 had started, I had no opportunity to study… I appeared in the exam from another school, but didn’t pass.

Defence: What about your elementary education?

Witness: I’d studied in Madrasa in elementary stage, then in Umedpur primary school from class 1-5, again back to Madrasa where I’d spent 3-4 years. After this, I enrolled myself in class six of Parerhat Rajlakhsmi school.

Defence: You had registered for SSC from another school

Witness: I don’t remember

Defence: You’d registered from Balipara school?a

Witness: yes, because my brother-in-law was there

Defence: That registration card says you were born in 20 March, 1959.

Witness: This can happen for the sake of education (referring to hiding his real age)

Defence: You’d written your real age in that application.

Witness: Not true.

Defence: From 16 December, 1971 to 14 August, 1975 Awami League and Bakshal government was in power. From which day did Bakshal government come to power?

Witness: Bakshal was in process, not formed yet.

Defence: You were in Bangladesh from 16 December, 1971- 14 August, 1975

Witness: yes Defence: From 1982- 1990 Ershad government was in power

Witness: I can’t remember the exact years, but he was in power.

Defence: From 1996-2001, Awami League government was in power led by Sheikh Hasina.

Witness: I can tell history, but not the exact dates. Defence: You’ve said from 1971-1975 Allama Delwar Hossain Sayedee was in hiding. Was he the chairman of any union or city corporation of your area?

Witness: I know him as an ordinary man.

Defence: After liberation, under Collaborators Ordinance there were cases filed against Peace Committee members who perpetrated murder, rape, loot etc in 1971. In Pirojpur cases were filed against 50 collaborators approximately.

Witness: I don’t know the figure.

Defence: You didn’t file any case against Allama Delwar Hossain Sayedee then?

Witness: No

Defence: You also didn’t file any GD against him at the police station?

Witness: No

Defence: You didn’t complain to any other authority about Sayedee Saheb?

Witness: No

Defence: What you have said about filing GD, case, complaint during the period of 1971-1975, etc, the same applies for Ershad regime?

Witness: yes

Defence: Likewise from 1990-1996, when Sheikh Hasina was in power, you haven’t filed any case or GD.
Witness: No I didn’t.

Defence: Who encouraged you to file the case at Pirojpur court in 2001?

Witness: I did it out of my own initiative.
Before the morning session ended, the chief prosecutor drew the tribunal’s attention to section 11 of the 1973 Act which requires that the tribunal ;confine the trial to an expeditious hearing of the issues raised by the charges.’ Zahir Ahmed asked the defence lawyer, when they will come to the main point., and the defence lawyer answered, ‘we are asking all relevant questions’

The afternoon session started
Defence: In the Pirojpur case you’d gone straight to the court, instead of police station.

Witness: yes

Defence: Before that case was lodged, the government prevented Allama Delwar Hossain Sayedee from travelling abroad.

Witness: I don’t know

Defence: You know that he (Sayedee) had appealed against that restriction at the Supreme Court.

Witness: I don’t know

Defence: And that the writ petition went in favour of Sayedee?

Witness: I don’t know

Defence: The government had lodged a ‘Leave to’ against that high court decision?

Witness: I don’t know

Chief prosecutor objects saying these are technical questions.

Defence: You know that after that ‘Leave to’ appeal, Attorney General had said there could be cases moved against Sayedee

Witness: I don’t know.

Defence: Following these events, you’d filed a case at Pirojpur court at Government’s order and supervision?

Witness: That is not true

Defence: At that time when you’d mentioned Delwar Hossain Sayedee, the words ‘at present called’ were not there

Witness: May be

Defence: During the investigation of that case, the IO had sent several officers to the respective magistrate to record witness statements [under section 164 of Cr. P. C.]

Witness: [answer unclear]

Defence: The IO had been to your place?

Witness: yes

Defence: You’d presented your evidence to him?

Witness: yes

Defence: Who were you with at that time? Tell us their names

Witness: I can’t remember

Tajul Islam, defence lawyer objects saying prosecution is using sign language to give instruction to the witness

Justice Zaheer: We’re watching out. Look at us when you speak (to witness).

Defence: You couldn’t place any evidence in support of the case at that time.Witness: Yes

Nizamul Haque: On which date was this case [before the Tribunal] filed?

Witness: 20/7/2010.

Defence: You’d travelled to Dhaka to submit the application

Witness: Yes I’d come to Dhaka

Defence: You knew the office of the chief investigation officer

Witness: I asked a colleague once I’d arrived in Dhaka

Defence: Give us his name

Witness: Mizanur Rahman Talukder.

Defence: Was your application composed at Pirojpur or in Dhaka?

Witness: at Pirojpur

Defence: How far is the place [from your house] where you’d composed it?

Witness: Around 5.5 mile

Defence: where did you write the application before composing (typing) it

Witness: at home

Defence: What’s the name of the owner of that computer place?

Witness: I can tell you about the place, even though I don’t know the name.

Defence: I am saying that investigation officers had brought you to Dhaka with the help of civil administration, and that you had only signed his written application

Witness: Not true

Defence: You haven’t given any statement regarding this case prior to your statement at this court.

Witness: On 19/8 our statements were taken at Bagerhat.

Defence: Did you lodge any complaint with 1992’s public trial?

Witness: No

Defence: In 1994 a public investigating commission was formed to identify the perpetrators.

Witness: I didn’t send my application to them.

Defence: Even though public investigating commission had advertised in the press looking for witnesses.

Witness: I knew

Defence: Were you a married man when Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had called for independence on March 7, 1971

Witness: no

Defence: When did you get married for the first time?

Witness: 4/2/1973

Defence: Your first wife’s name was Firoza?

Justice Zaheer: Is his wife’s name necessary?

Defence: yes. His wife had filed a case of dowry against him at Pirojpur court.

Justice Zaheer: Why not we avoid any personal scandalous matter

Defence: We want to show what kind of a man is he. He wants dowry, and, tells lies

Justice Zaheer: You’ve many other components for a fallacy case

Defence: Why should we avoid this (matter)?

Nizamul Haque: Family matters don’t create matters for fallacy. Had you proved a case of murder or robbery…

Defence: He is a convicted person.

Tajul Islam: Dowry is a criminal offence. It’s not family matter.

Defence: Your first wife’s name was Firoza Begam. She had filed a case of dowry against you in which you were convicted and still are.

Witness: I am on bail, having appealed to the High Court. It was me who’d filed a case against her at first when she’d left with my assets. Later she filed a case of divorce.

Defence: What was the result of your case?

Witness: We got divorced. Case was dismissed through negotiation.

Defence: What you said about dismissal is not true.

Witness: I have documents (to prove it).

Defence: Do you know Shuvash Chandra Halder?

Witness: Yes

Defence: You had been to jail after he’d filed a theft case against you.

Witness: Shuvash Chandra is a mere peasant. They lease land from the government. My name was falsely entered in that charge sheet. Later when I came to know, I filed an application and was acquitted.

Defence: You had been questioned (in court) on the first day.

Nizamul Haque: After acquittal, conviction does not remain

Defence: You were present during the hearing and when the order was passed.

Witness: It’s true that I didn’t know about the case (until later) but I can’t remember whether I was present during hearing of the order.

Defence: In 1971, during the liberation war, until Pakistani Occupying Forces came, the area was under the control of ‘Sharbadaliya Sangram Parishad’.

Witness: In Pirojpur Proper (town) that had happened, not in our village.

Defence: Who was the Chairman of Sharbadaliya Sangram Parishad?

Witness: Enayet Hossain and Auwal were its leaders, I’ve heard.

Defence: Who was the secretary?

Witness: Could be Doctor Adul Hye, or Auwal Saheb

Defence: Freedom fighters had looted supply of the Sangram Parishad. Do you know on which day?

Witness: I don’t know

Defence: Were you member of any political organisation back then?

Witness: no

Defence: You can’t tell who belonged to which political party?

Witness: Not all of it.

Defence: Do you know Urdu well?

Witness: no.

Justice Zaheer: Ask first whether he knows Urdu at all. Defence: Do you know Urdu?

Witness: When someone speaks (in that language), I can tell its Urdu.

Defence: Whether someone speaks Urdu well or not, you are not supposed to understand that (difference).

Witness: If five people speak in Urdu, you can compare and verify. But if four speak Bangla, one speaks Urdu, he (latter) is the only person who knows it better than others.

Defence: Did you read newspaper back then?

Witness: Not really.

Defence: Then you wouldn’t have known that Jamaat-e-Islami members had meeting in Khulna and Kushtia.

Witness: I have heard of Golam Ajam (meeting) in Khulna from Yusuf Saheb. I don’t know the exact date.

Defence: When was East Pakistan Peace Committee formed?

Chief Prosecutor (Golam Arif Tipu) objects saying this question is a repetition.

Nizamul Haque: Court will object if it deems so.

Witness: After 25th March.

Defence: Who was the chairman of that Peace Committee?

Witness: As far as I know it was Golam Ajam.
Defence: Do you know how many members this committee had?

Witness: No

Defence: Would you know names of other members of that committee?

Witness: I know a few. AKM Yusuf of Khulna, Khan Md Afzal from Pirojpur and other Jamaat-e-Islami activists had formed the Peace Committee.

Defence: Who was the Razakar commander in Pirojpur Sadar?

Witness: I can’t give any specific name

Defence: Who was the Razakar leader of Pirojpur Mahkuma?

Witness: I don’t know the exact name, but know that Afzal Saheb headed the Peace Committee (in Pirojpur).

Defence: At your Zianagar, there were no Al-Shams and Al-Badar forces. Razakar was a government force.

Witness: I don’t know whether it was a government force or not, but knew it as an associate force of the Pakistani military.

Defence: Were Razakars paid salary?

Witness: I don’t know.

Kafiluddin Choudhury (Defence Counsel) takes over from Defence:

Defence: As a spy, you’d observed the loot of Parerhat Bazaar. Since when were you appointed in that role?

Witness: After 25th March, there was training on the school ground where I was given that responsibility.

Defence: The responsibility was communicating information with Sundarban Muktijodhdha camp. For how long?

Witness: since Sundarban camp was formed.

Defence: Was it before May 7?

Witness: yes

Defence: You were appointed before May 7. Where did this happen?

Witness: At the end of June, Giasuddin Saheb, Auwal Saheb, Modhu Saheb had appointed me.

Defence: Did you travel over there daily to pass on news?

Witness: There was no fixed date. I would travel to the camp myself or send information via other people.

Defence: How many times did you go there?

Witness: Not less than 50 times, approximately.

Defence: Through whom did pass information?

Witness: People who knew the roads well. Shahijuddin and Raisuddin used to carry arms and news by boat.

Defence: The whole area was very remote back then. It was difficult to travel from your area to Major Zia’s camp.

Witness: It was difficult due to Peace Committee and Razakars. We were not concerned about Pakistani military, but them because they knew us.

Defence: How long did it take you to travel from your area to the camp?

Witness: I can’t tell you the time. Travelling depended on the circumstances.

Defence: How long did it take in favourable condition?

Witness: I could never reach there easily.

Defence: When did you travel for the minimum time and how long did that take?

Witness: This happened forty years ago. It won’t be right to give an answer (he probably meant he didn’t remember and won’t like to give an answer based on assumption).

Justice Zaheer: It’s not a question of right or wrong.

Defence: Have you ever met Major Ziauddin?

Witness: Yes I’ve met him sometimes

Defence: In Major Ziauddin’s absence, who were in charge?

Witness: Kalam
Defence: Have you met him?

Witness: He was there all the time.
Session finished

No comments:

Post a Comment