Monday, December 19, 2011

14 Dec 2011: Howlader cross exam day 4

Before the forth day of cross examination into the first witness,  Mahbubul Alam Howalader, who is giving evidence against Delwar Hossain Sayedee, the Chief Prosecutor asked the tribunal to issue a direction about who from the defence and prosecution could be present at the court. The tribunal chairman said that they will allow anyone as long as there was enough space and no disturbance was created in court’s proceedings.

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

Below is an unofficial translation of the cross examination that then took place. (Notes and translation undertaken by Onchita Shadman. Every attempt has been made to ensure accuracy, but there may be some small omissions.)

Cross examination continued with Kafiluddin Choudhury as the defence lawyer
Defence: Sundarban area is within Pirojpur

Witness: No

Defence: It is spread around Satkhira, Bagerhat and a large area of India

Witness: Area is huge.

Defence: And do you know how huge it is?

Witness: I can’t tell you exactly.

Witness: Any estimate?

Chairman: Neither you, nor me can estimate the size.

Defence: How far inside Sunderban was Major Zia’s camp?

Witness: I used touch base with with Sharankhola camp. There was a training centre deep inside, but I can’t tell how far that was. Later another camp was made.

Defence: You used to communicate with Sharankhola camp?

Witness: most of the time

Defence: You’ve said in Major Zia’s absence you’d contact with Kalam Saheb. What did Major Zia’s office look like?

Witness: It was set up in the forest office there.

Defence: I am asking about the description of the place inside. Was it an underground bunker or tent, etc?

Witness: It looked like the forest office of that time.

Defence: War commanders have their own (battle) plans. Was there any board inside with names and responsibilities of commanders?

Witness: There was no such discipline.

Ziad-Al-Malum (prosecutor): My lord commanders don’t have any board..

Chairman: It’s his question to verify..

Defence: Did you notice any photo over there?

Witness: No, there was no option for decoration.

Defence: Did he have any typist or PS?

Witness: I haven’t seen.

Defence: Generally, not during war, how long would it take to reach Major Zia’s camp inside Sunderban and what vehicle would you use?

Witness: Normally it will take a day to reach there but due to tide and ebb, it may longer sometimes. Yesterday I’d said I’ve been there 50 times. I’ve made a slight mistake. I’ve been there 15-20 times.

Defence: Did you have to make your own arrangement or was there a special service (to take you there)?

Witness: Secretly we went by boat.

Defence: Who rowed those boats?

Witness: Me, Raisuddin, Shahijuddin.

Defence: At what time did you head out?

Witness: It wasn’t an ordinary journey (meaning they couldn’t keep track of time as such)

Chairman: Leave out this question. Next one.

Defence: Did you often spend the night over there?

Witness: I have stayed there 1 or 2 days due to physical difficulty.

Defence: You’d made acquaintance with many freedom fighters during your stays.

Witness: I’ve seen (many).

Defence: How many camps were there?

Witness: Initially there were three camps. Later more camps came about

Defence: How many more?

Witness: I can’t tell you precisely

Defence: Can you give an estimate?

Murmurs from Prosecution

Defence: It’s been 25 minutes and every question was accompanied by side talk.

Justice Zaheer: Learned Chief Prosecutor, if you have any objection please raise your hand.

Chief Prosecutor: This is general knowledge. The question has to be made clear, the answer understood, only then proceed to the next question.

Sayedee: I would like to say something. My brother wasn’t allowed access inside the court today, even though he took his pass

Chairman: As far as I know Mostafa Sayeed is in the court today.
Sayedee: He wasn’t allowed to come in

Chairman: Those who’d like to come here, should come earlier.

Sayedee: Firstly, he came here before 10 and took his pass at 10:20. Secondly, I hope my lawyers would be able to ask questions in ‘undisturbed way’ and this will ensure dignity of the tribunal.

Chairman: We hope to uphold the dignity of the tribunal.

Defence: How many commanders were there in Major Zia’s camp?

Witness: I don’t know.

Defence: Can you estimate?

Chairman: I didn’t understand your questions. We remember those days. Major Zia himself was a sub-sector commander. There were no area-wise commanders at that time. 

Defence: I am asking every question with prior knowledge.

Prosecution: Our learned friend is asking questions based on contemporary structure of the military.

Defence: Major Zia hails from your area?

Witness: Yes

Defence: How far is your house from his?

Witness: Around 5.5 miles. Could be bit more or less.

Defence: Since when did you know each other.

Witness: He spent his student life in Pirojpur. Since then I’ve known him.

Defence: Is he older or younger?

Witness: We think older.

Defence: How did you address him? By his name or as Major Zia?

Witness: We called him ‘Ustad’ (master).

Defence: Would you know the name of the area where Major Zia’s camp was located inside Sunderban?

Witness: I can’t say.

Defence: You’ve never been attacked while travelling to and from the camp?

Witness: I was careful….Once we faced danger while travelling on a boat.

Defence: Was there any Commando (soldier) to guard Major Zia? Was there any security shield?

Witness: No. But a force did guard the camp.

Defence: Whenever you’d been to his office, who accompanied him all the time.

Prosecution objects that defence is interfering with witness’s answer. Defence was asking questions rapidly

Witness: Mohiuddin Qader.

Defence: Can you give names of any other people?

Witness: Goni Poshari, Chunnu Khan, Goutam Halder, Sudhir Master, Shanker Sen.

Defence: Major Zia had split up his command into different divisions as part of his warfare plan. Can you tell us names of the people responsible for those divisions?

Witness: Advocate Shamsul Haque from Pirojpur.

Defence: Do you know the name of the person in charge of intelligence division?

Witness: I think Mohiuddin Kalam.

Defence: Where was that intelligence command based inside Sunderban?

Prosecution Counsel: It wasn’t a conventional war.

Defence: He is not supposed to answer that.

Witness: There wasn’t any such camp in my knowledge.

Defence: Did you know anyone named Paritosh Kumar Pal?

Witness: I may have known earlier, but can’t remember now.

Defence: Have you heard of Tambalbunia and Pangasia?

Witness: I’ve heard of Pangasia.

Defence: What is it? Is it a mountain, river, what?

Witness: It could be a locality, a village.

Justice Zaheer (to witness): Why are you saying ‘could be’? If you don’t know, admit that. I am reminding you once again that during cross, if you know something, say ‘I know’, if you don’t, say ‘I don’t know’.

Defence: Do you know Tambalbunia?

Witness: I don’t know.

Defence: Do you know of any freedom fighter called Babul Gazi?

Witness: of which area? There’s no Babul Gazi in our area.

Defence: Who was the commander appointed in your area by Major Zia?

Witness: Advocate Shamsul Haque as far as I know.

Defence: Who was the Muktijodhdha commander in your neighbouring police station, Ujirpur?
Witness: I can’t say.

Defence: Who were commanders in Swarupkathi police station, Kaukhali, Bhandaria, Mothbaria…
Witness: Aziz commander in Bhandaria. I can’t remember the rest of them right now

Defence: You didn’t fight the war or taken any training as an informer.

Witness: I’d taken general training on spying.

Defence: When and in which camp?

Witness: In Sunderban at the end of June.

Defence: Who conducted the training?

Witness: Modhu

Defence: Where was that camp located inside of Sunderban?

Witness: I can’t say in which village

Defence: Do you know freedom fighters Abdul Mannan, Habibur Rahman, Azhar, Majid Khan, Jahangir?

Witness: No, not without their address.

Defence: During the liberation war, have you met any freedom fighter of such names?

Witness: There are several people called Habib. I can’t answer without knowing where he is from

Defence: You submitted an application to this tribunal on 20/7/2010, in which you didn’t mention that Auwal Saheb had assigned you (as an informer).

Witness: I haven’t thought that far.

Defence: On December 8, your area had been free of enemies. When and on which day did Major Zia arrive in your area?

Witness: I can’t say, but I was there with him.

Defence: Can you say at time on 8th did he come?

Witness: It was after 8th. I can’t tell you the time.

Defence: Major Zia had written a memoir called “Sunderbaner Ummatal Dinguli”, published in 1993.

Witness: I’ve heard of it, never read it.

Defence: The description…

Justice Zaheer: Since he hasn’t read the book, there is no point in asking him about its content.

Defence: Pirojpur District Council published a book on Pirojpur’s history in 2007.Witness: I don’t know (about it)

Defence: Because the content of the book doesn’t match with your descriptions, you are denying your knowledge of the book to hide the truth.

Witness: Not true

Defence: Poet Hasan Hafizur Rahman edited a factual historical book on Bangladesh’s liberation war which was published by Bangladesh Information Ministry. Have you read it?

Witness: No

Defence: Because the content of the book doesn’t match with your descriptions, you are denying your knowledge of the book to hide the truth.

Witness: Not true.

Defence: After Pirojpur had been enemy-free, on 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16th Major Ziauddin led the capture of Peace Committee, Razakar, anti-independence people of Pirojpur. They (captives) were taken to the Sunderban on steamer and shot dead.

Witness: Not true

Defence: Between 8-16 December, the Razakars you’ve mentioned, Sultan, Sekander Shikder, Sekander Commander, Moslem Maulana, Danesh Molla, Delwar Hossain Mollick, Syed Md Afzal, and other infamous Razakars were arrested.

Witness: not true, only Sekander was arrested, rest are in hiding

Defence: After the liberation war, war criminals were identified by the state and cases were filed against them

Justice Zaheer: You can ask the IO about this

Defence: (to Justice Zaheer) He’s stated historic facts.

Defence: After the liberation war, war criminals were identified by the state and cases were filed against them

Witness: I don’t know about this.

Defence: Citizenship of prominent Razakars, who were in hiding, had been cancelled.

Witness: I’ve heard

Defence: Major Ziauddin wasn’t an army major. Since you did not have acquaintance with Major Ziauddin, you’ve given wrong information

Witness: Not true

Defence: You did not have acquaintance with Major Zia, you were not assigned as an informer in Pirojpur, you were not a freedom fighter and you didn’t go to Sunderban

Witness: Not true at all

Defence: The freedom fighters of your area have submitted an application identifying you as a phony freedom fighter. Witness: Not true

Defence: When were you listed as a freedom fighter?

Witness: During Khaleda Zia’s government.

Defence: In 2004 you’d sent an application addressing PM Khaleda Zia, and in 2005, you’d applied directly to deputy commissioner, having taken recommendation from Allama Delwar Hossain Sayedee.

Witness: He’d given me recommendation as an MP. I didn’t take it from Sayedee as an individual. 
Defence: Because you were listed during Khaleda Zia’s regime and taken Sayedee’s recommendation, your present MP Auwal issued a verbal order to identify you as a phony freedom fighter and cancel your allowance

Witness: Not true

Defence: Following that event, you approached him saying, “I am a distressed, unemployed man. Please help me and restore my allowance. I’ll do as you say.”

Witness: Not true

Defence: My local MP Auwal and other higher authorities have used me to file this false case

Witness: not true

Defence: Like you, there are 32000 fake freedom fighters in this country.

Witness: (Such thing had happened during BNP’s regime.) (This answer to cancelled.)

Hyder Ali tells off the witness for not answering the questions with yes and no. Argument breaks out between Prosecution and Defence.

Witness: I don’t know (in answer to last question)

Justice Zaheer: If anyone passes further comment, I’ll write beside this (witness’s answer), ‘said by prosecution’.

Defence: During BNP’s era..

Chairman: Why should we bring name of a regime into this? He’d given a voluntary answer

Defence: The statement you’ve made against Delwar Hossain Sayedee, you haven’t mentioned it elsewhere.

Witness: true
Cross examination was adjourned and started again at 2.
Defence: Allama Delwar Hossain Sayedee participated in the national election from your area and won

Witness: yes

Defence: And every time he’d put down his name as Allama Delwar Hossain Sayedee and won.

Witness: yes

Defence: His opponent from Bangladesh Awami League Sudhangshu Shekhar Halder had filed a electoral case against him.

Witness: yes

Defence: He’d made many complaints in that but didn’t say anything about Sayedee’s name (change) and that Delwar Hossain Sayedee was against independence.

Witness: It was a case of stealing voter cards.

Defence: The families of people, who you have described as victims of Sayedee, didn’t bring forth any complaint against him during election period.

Witness: I don’t know

Defence: Delwar Hossain Sayedee received the highest no of vote from Umedpur center, the place where Bisha Bali was allegedly killed.

Witness: yes

Defence: In 2001’s election, he’s received the highest amount of votes from every centre of Balipara and Parerhat.

Witness: I don’t know.

Defence: In the election of 1996, he took lead on receiving highest no. of total votes from Parerhat.

Witness: Somewhere (vote was) less, somewhere more.

Defence: In 2001’s general election, Sayedee had received highest amount of vote from Shankarpara union, the area of current Awami League MP Auwal.

Witness: I heard that he got more votes.

Defence: Do you know freedom fighter Shahidul Alam Nilu and from your area Liakot Ali Badsha, Habibur Rahman Bahadur, Abdus Salam Baten and Khashrul Alam.

Witness: Abdus Salam Baten was not a freedom fighter. I don’t know whether the rest were freedom fighters or not. I don’t know Khashrul. I know Habibur Rahman, but not as Habibur Rahman Bahadur.

Defence: Khashrul Alam was the commander of Parerhat Muktijidhdha camp.

Witness: I haven’t seen him.

Defence: Those aforementioned freedom fighters had supported Delwar Hossain Sayedee in the election and didn’t lodge any case of war crime against him.

Witness: Not true

Defence: During the war, the SDPO of your area, Faizur Rahman was martyred. After liberation, his wife Ayesha Foiz had filed murder case at Pirojpur court accusing people who were involved in his (SDPO’s) murder.

Witness: Don’t know

Defence: She had written a memoir titled, “Jibon Jerokom”, which was published in 2008.

Witness: Don’t know

Defence: Since Delwar Hossain Sayedee’s name is not mentioned in that book, you are denying having knowledge of it (the book) to hide the truth

Witness: Not true

Defence: Delwar Hossain Sayedee had been organising Waaz Mahfil in his name since the liberation war. He’d never change his name and had never been in hiding.

Chief Prosecutor Tipu objects saying defence has already asked too many questions regarding Sayedee’s name.

Defence: Did he organise Waaz Mahfil in that area as Allama Delwar Hossain Sayedee?

Witness: No, he was in hiding until 76-77.

Defence: When did you become Muktijodhdha commander?

Witness: Most likely in June I’ve been elected as Zianagar Sangsad’s commander.

Defence: Can you give names of your former commanders? When was Zianagar Sangsad formed?

Witness: Abdul Latif has been commander since after the war. I was deputy commander. Latif Saheb and Belayat Hossain were commander before me.

Defence: How often do you have election for your Muktijodhdha Sangsad?

Witness: It used to be every two years. But after the last parliamentary election, this changed and a new circular came out. We are yet to receive those papers.

Defence: When was Zianagar Sangsad formed?

Witness: Probably in ’74.

Defence: What did you do during the war?

Prosecution side objects saying this is repetition.

Witness: Before the war had started I was a student, until ’70.

Defence: See if you know these freedom fighters, Shamsul Alam Talukder, Habilder Shahid Alauddin, Syed Shamsul Haque, Habilder Habib, Syed Abu, Captain Altaf, Dr. Jahangir, Md. Afzal, Hemayetuddin Badsha, Nurul Islam, Mojibul Haque Mojnu, Shahid Asad, Md Helal, Tipu Sultan, Kamaluddin Ahmed, Habibur Rahman Shikder, Habilder Hye, Subedar Latif, Md Habib, Subedar Gaffar, Subedar Fulu, Md Shahid Khandaker, Shahidul Alam Badal, Habilder Fazlul Haque. Prosecution raises the point that the localities of these freedom fighters were not cited. There could be many people with similar names..

Witness: I know Habilder Shamsul Haque who now is an advocate. I know Habilder Habib as Habib Shikder. I know Abu, Shahid Asad, Tipu Sultan, Kamaluddin. Unless I know localities/address of Habibur Rahman Shikder and others, I can’t distinguish them.

Defence: I suggest that Habilder Shamsul Haque and Advocate Shamsul Haque are different persons.

Witness: As far as I know, Habilder Shamsul Haque is Advocate Shamsul Haque.

Defence: How many children do you have?

Witness: I had six, but now four are there (eldest son had passed away).

Defence: How old is your existing eldest son

Witness: 15/16. Youngest son is four.

Kafiluddin Choudhury says his questioning is finished and he would pass this on to his colleague, Manzur Ahmed Ansari.

Judges say that defence still hasn’t come to the 18 counts.

Tajul Islam: Every question we have asked is relevant. They (prosecution) had made him (witness) memorise his statement and so he was able to finish it in one day. But we have to find contradiction of each of those points during cross examination.

Chairman: It takes you three days to come to the point!

Defence: Your home at Tengrakhali is west of Parerhat port. You have to move along the road that comes away from Parerhat Bazaar and leads towards Rajlaxmi High School.

Witness: right 
Defence: What is the estimated distance? At north there is the rickshaw stand, at south Kocha River. Is it 2.5 mile long?

Witness: yes

Defence: There are three alleys in that Bazaar?

Witness: yes

Defence: Parerhat Bazaar had 1200 shops in 1971?

Witness: No, had around 500-700

Defence: The path from your house to Parerhat Bazaar was a dirt road.

Witness: yes

Defence: How far is your house from the rickshaw stand?

Witness: Roughly 1.5 km

Defence: My suggestion is, it’s roughly 3km.

Witness: No, it won’t be 3km.

Defence: You have two brothers

Witness: yes

Defence: Your brother Baten Howlader lives in your ancestral house?

Witness: yes

Defence: Your brother Mafiz Howlader has passed away.

Witness: yes

Defence: He has four sons did he have?

Witness: yes

Defence: In 1971 your brother Baten Howlader lived in your house.

Witness: In the same house, but in different rooms.

Defence: Adul Hye, son of late Mobarak Ali, lives in your house?

Witness: yes

Defence: The other two sons of that Mobarak, Jabbar and Auwal also lives in the same house, but in separate rooms. How old was Abdul Hye in 1971.

Witness: We are of same age.

Defence: At present Jabbar is 52, Auwal 57.

Witness: Auwal is around 50. Jabbar’s age wil be 38-40

Defence: Jahangir, son of Lala Shikder belongs to your house (family?). How old is he?

Witness: He is 2-3 years younger than Auwal.

Defence: Mohsin from the same house is 53 years old.

Witness: possibly

Defence: The people I have mentioned so far belong to your house (family) and all of you lived together in your old house in 1971.

Witness: yes

Defence: At north of your old house is Jakir Bari (Jakir family’s house).

Witness: At north of ours is Sarder Bari (Sarder family’s house).

Defence: How many rooms did Sarder Bari have in 1971?

Witness: one

Defence: Who lives there?

Witness: The children. Abdul Latif Howlader is the eldest son

Defence: Did you know deceased Mobarak Jakir?

Witness: yes

Defence: Two of his sons are Ruhul Amin Fakir and Goni Amin Fakir. Did you know Jinnat Ali Fakir from that house?

Witness: yes

Defence: His eldest son’s name is Abul Hasan Fakir; another son’s name is Jalil Fakir.

Witness: Yes

Defence: Sekander Ali Fakir?

Witness: Passed away

Defence: Do you know Yusuf Choukidar from that house?

Witness: Yes

Defence: He is 75 years old?

Witness: Yes

Defence: His son is also Choukidar (village police). Could you say his name?

Witness: Kalam Choukidar.

Defence: Do you know Hemayat Sharif, son of late Motahar Sharif, of that house?

Witness: Yes

Defence: Hemayat Sharif’s age is 52.

Witness: He should be of my age.

Defence: Do you know Salek Sharif of that house?

Witness: Yes

Defence: His age is 66.

Witness: He is much younger than me, will be 52-55

Defence: Do you know Moslem from the house, west of yours?

Witness: yes

Defence: His age is 65

Witness: Could be more.

Defence: Daliluddin’s son Salam from that house?

Witness: Know him. He is my cousin and brother of my first wife.

Defence: Further on south-west lives Md Hanif.

Witness: know him

Defence: His age?

Witness: around 50.

Defence: From same house hails Abul Choukidar. Is Abdul Aziz his son?

Witness: Yes

Defence: Had he been Choukidar (village cop) as well?

Witness: Yes

Defence: Later he’d been in Police and at present is a retiree.

Witness: Yes

Defence: Anis belongs to the same house (family)

Witness: Yes

Defence: Moinuddin is Anis’s father

Witness: He isn’t there (died)

Defence: Do you know Belayat from that house?

Witness: Yes

Defence: From you house, Char Tengrakhali village is 3 km on the south-west.

Witness: Less than that, half km

Defence: Along the road?

Witness: not more than 1km.

Defence: Late Bisha Bali’s house in Umedpur village was east of your house.

Witness: Yes

Defence: Hasan Chairman’s house is south of the road emerging from Bisha Bali’s house.

Witness: Yes

Defence: What’s the distance in between (the two houses)? 150 Gauze?

Witness: May be

Defence: Hasan Chairman’s son Shah Alam is the present chairman.

Witness: Yes. Hasan was chairman of the Peace Committee.

Defence: His brother’s name is Abdus Salam Howlader.

Witness: Yes

Defence: One of his brothers is Abdus Salam Howlader, another one is Najem Howlader. Do you know in which direction is their house?

Witness: East of mine, west of Bisha Bali’s.

Defence: Late Kashem Howlader’s house is also there.

Witness: It’s the same house (Najem’s and Kashem’s)

Defence: Kashem Howlader’s sons are Latif and Afzal. Do you know them?

Witness: Yes

Defence: To same house belongs Nurul Islam Howlader, son of Hossain Howlader.

Witness: Know him

Defence: Due to dirt roads in 1971, rickshaws rarely moved about your area.

Witness: Yes

Defence: Parerhat Bazaar is divided into two by a canal. There are bridges on the western and the eastern sides. The main bazaar is on the west end.

Witness: It is west of the big canal on the east.

Defence: What was on the east side in 1971?

Witness: Houses. The bazaar wasn’t there.

Defence: Going south of the east bank of the big canal, and turning east, then south from there, again turning to west and moving along the bank of Kocha River will lead to Manik Poshari’s house

Witness: Can’t go until the bank of Kocha River.

Defence: Manik Poshari’s house is 4 km from your house.

Witness: Not more than 3 km.

Defence: My suggestion is considering the dirt roads, this will be 5km.

Witness: Not true.

Defence: Manik Poshari’s village is Chitalia.

Witness: It’s between Badura and Chitalia (villages).

Defence: Badura is on east of the bridge in the middle of Parerhat Bazaar.

Witness: Yes

Defence: At present, Chitalia is densely populated.

Witness: It wasn’t like this before.

Defence: How far is Manik Poshari’s house from the river bank?

Witness: Before it was 1-2 miles away, but now the bank has moved closer.

Defence: Halim Talukder’s house is east of Manik Poshari’s house.

Witness: I can’t remember.

Defence: At east is Tota Howlader’s house and at west is Moslemuddin Poga’s house.

Witness: I don’t know.

Defence: Late Abdul Alim Khan’s son, Barek Khan’s house is also west of Manik Poshari’s house. Ismail Forazi’s son Anwar Forazi’s house is also there.

Witness: Could be

Chairman: For how long would you question a witness? (He mentions the fatigue the witness may be experiencing and points out that defence counsels had taken turns to question him)

Defence: He is the applicant of this case. He has stated Bisha Bali’s murder. I have to expose the contradictions in his statement by questioning him. 
Chairman: We haven’t asked you regarding the intention of your examination. But you have to come to the point. You are examining a witness for three days and now saying you are coming to the point!

Tajul Islam: This won’t happen in case of other witnesses. He is the main witness.
Hearing finished for the day

No comments:

Post a Comment