Saturday, July 28, 2012

9 Jul 2012: Alim trial opening

Tribunal Two
Following the end of the morning session, the afternoon was set for hearing the opening statement into the trial of Abdul Alim.

Please note that between Mid-April (when the case was moved to Tribunal two), and 9 July (the beginning of the trial) no detailed notes of proceedings are available. However the key orders/ applications involving tribunal two in this period are set out below..
- Prosecution application for charge framing 
- Defence response 
- Tribunal order of Indictment
- Defence review application
- Tribunal order on review application

The Prosecutor Rana Das Gupta mentioned to the court that the defence could not go to all the places mentioned in the formal charge sheet to collect evidence. We have been to 3 places only.

Justice Obaidul Hassan asked why it has taken such a long time to present the case

Prosecutor Rana Das Gupta said that the prosecution had to prepare documents along with evidence collection and visiting of the spots. That is why we could not make it faster.

Justice Shahinur Islam asked the prosecutor to proceed.

Prosecutor Rana Das Gupta started to read out the opening statement from page one.
The war of independence gave us our national identity. But if we remember the role of the Shanti Committee, we cannot ignore the fact that it has an adverse effect on the nationals of Bangladesh. Shanti Committee through its activities pushed our national identity towards the religious fundamentalism and religious blindness. By destroying our nationality is such way, it has thus attempted to destroy our nation. The Shanti Committee along with the Pakistani Government has dishonoured the constitution of Bangladesh. My lord, it may seem irrelevant to the case but it is not. The defeated power of the war of independence is always against the freedom of our country. It is a sheer conspiracy against our future generation by them. We already know about the vicious fact that during the war of independence the Shanti Committee was engaged in genocide, rape, murders, loot and many other crimes.
Justice A.T.M. Fazle Kabir : Mr. Rana Das Gupta, please skip these pages and start reading from the point of national election.

Prosecutor Rana Das Gupta: My lord, I will skip the pages as you said but please do consider the unread pages as well.
If we focus on our national elections, we will find out that there has been conspiracy against Bangabondhu Sheikh Mujibor Rahman and his followers. The member of Shanti Committee and their companions have willingly served the Pakistani Army and helped them to oppress the Bangladeshi.

There are certain significant activities of the Shanti Committee that we can name, like-

1. They worked against Bangabondhu Sheikh Mujibor Rahman and his followers. They were against the independence of Bangladesh.

2. They formed Shanti Committee and misrepresented the national image of our country by committing unforgivable crimes during the war of independence.

3. During the war India was helping us but they considered India as rival.

4. They were against the freedom of our nation but they titled us as treacherous.

5. Their hostility was not limited within political rivalry but also expanded in the forms of several fierce crimes.

I am presenting the opening statement against Abdul Alim, former leader of Convention Muslim League and minister of the then Pakistan Government. He is a power political leader of Joypurhat Mohokuma, Bogura. He was also a minister of former BNP government. He was strongly against the Language Movement of 1952 and worked on behalf of Pakistan Government during the war of independence. We can find the proof from ‘The Daily Sangram’, October, 1971 that Abdul Alim was a powerful leader of Convention Muslim League.

Rana Dasgupta said the government issued proclamation against Alim under the Collaborators Act, 1972, and arrested him in March 1972. Through a government investigation it was proved that allegations brought against him for his activities against the liberation war was true, added the prosecutor. Even documents from the defence say that in March 1972, Alim was arrested for co-operating the Pakistani forces and he was released on bail in 1974.

He also worked as a minister from 1977 to 1981 in the time of Ziaur Rahman government. Before surrendering to the army in 1971, he was involved in several operations of Pakistani Army, for example ‘operation searchlight’. He as a leader of Convention Muslim League along with other defeated parties of the election of 1970, worked against the liberation of Bangladesh.

On 9 April, 1970 after the election the proposal to form ‘Nagorik Shanti Committee’ was raised. On 12 April, 1970 Shamsul Huda order to form Shanti Committee and on 15 April, 1970 the name of Shanti Committee was finalized.

Prosecutor Rana Das Gupta also mentioned the name of the book ‘Witness to Surrender’, written by Siddiq Salik. In that he wrote that the Pakistani Army had to depend on the cooperation of the local people and the only people that came forward was the rightist, the top leaders of Jamaat-e-Islam and Muslim League.
After that Prosecutor Saiful Islam started to read out.
The Shanti Committee helped the Pakistani Army during the liberation war by providing them electricity, telephone, accommodation and other facilities. The Shanti Committe has major contribution in forming Rajakar Bahini. By attacking the religious sensitivity, they tried to spread the revolt. They were encouraged by the Pakistani army to oppress the people of east Pakistan. They forced people to help the Pakistani army. They worked as an auxiliary force for the Pakistan government.

Prosecutor Saiful Islam mentioned a conversation between Henry A Kisinger and Mr William in Washington DC. In the conversation they were talking about the cooperation of the Shanti committee and Rajakar bahini during liberation war.

On 13 June, 1971 there was a news published in ‘The Daily Songram’ where it was said that to keep peace in the country we have to follow the way of guerrilla and the people of Rangpur were praised for opposing the Pakistani army.

Shanti Committee helped to form and find the member of the Rajakar Bahini and the proof is found in the government official documents of that time. One of the Captain of Pakistani army named Capt. Ijahar Hossain wrote that the Pakistani army helped to train the Rajakar bahini. In the Kolbagan field and Mohammadpur Physical Training Centre the Pakistani army gave training to the member of Rajakar Bahini and the duration of the training was 1 week to 1.5 week. Their recruitment and salary of the Rajakar bahini was monitored by the Shanti committee. The leader and followers of the then political party Jamat-e-Islami was also member of the Shanti committee and as they were involved in all those crimes (genocide, rape, loot etc.), we can call Jamat-e-Islami as a party of criminals.

Accused Abdul Alim in his own house in Joypurhat Mohokuma, Bogura district, set up training camp and recruiting centre for the Rajakar bahini. He formed Shanti Committee in Joypurhat and then he contributed in forming Rajakar bahini. Major Afzal and Abdul Alim had close relation and they together committed many crimes. Belated Shawonlal Bajlal was one of the richest businessmen in Joypurhat and in the 3rd week of April, 1971 Abdul Alim forced him and his family to leave the country. Then he captured his house, shops, rice terrace etc. and he also took his Volkswagen car. He also teased Soleman’s daughter who was an ayurvedic practitioner. On the 25th year of Pakistan there was assembly in the Altafunnesa moidan in Bogura and in that assembly he blamed the freedom fighter for creating chaos and warned that those who will disturb the peace of the country will not be relieved. He has tortured the freedom fighters.

On 6 March, 2011 the investigation officer Z.A. Altafur Rahman presented the investigation report. The investigation report, proof and statement of the witness were sent to this tribunal in January, 2012. There were 17 allegation charged against Abdul Alim. The allegations are divided into three type and they are genocide, to force people to immigrate and murder related.

The constitution of Bangladesh was amended in 1973 to authorize criminal prosecution of any person accused of “genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes and other crimes under international law.” Bangladesh also enacted the International Crimes (Tribunal) Act of 1973 to establish a process for such prosecutions. War crime prosecutions have become common over the last decade or so, but in 1973 the people of Bangladesh were taking pioneering steps to prevent impunity for grave atrocities, steps that drew praise from the international community at the time. After the 40 years of independence the accused Abdul Alim’s crime is going to be revealed. His crime was versatile and it directly or indirectly interrupted the republican image of our country. If we do not punish the treachery of the accused, we will step ahead in the path of destroying our future generation. The accused cannot only be blamed for the crimes but also for organizing conspiracy against the nation. We have to admit them as criminals and their vicious crimes as punishable in order to save our history. And those who killed our national leader Bangabondhu Sheikh Mujibor Rahman they are against our national conscience.

We have presented the formal charges of this case in front of the court. And we know that after the liberation war these criminals (Rajakar, Albodor, Shanti bahini) hid for few days and then took the advantage of time and came out in daylight.

They have been an obstacle in establishing democracy.

They have created anarchy in the country after liberation war.

Apart from Sheikh Hasina’s time (Awami League government), there was no peace in the country.

They (the defeated power of liberation war) are creating incitement among mass people and have distorted our language and culture. They have directly opposed the liberation war. They have introduced the politics of religious blindness, politics of clash and vulgarity. They have deprived the mass people specially the women from their rights. They are like cancer for our nation.

From 1948 to 1973 the process of judging of genocide in Bangladesh was initiated from Nuremberg and it was improvised by including more war crimes with genocide. In 1948 the Genocide Convention took place. Again, between the Nuremberg trials in 1945 and the establishment of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in 1993, there were no examples of a legal institution trying crimes against humanity. In 1971 30 lach people were killed, 2 lach women were raped and 1 crore people as refugee went to India. In comparison to world’s other countries’ genocide, the judgement started after a long delay. Still the process of judging the criminals of World War 2 is going on. The gravity of the justice to this crime are-

- To save the future generation

- To bring peace in national life and not to let the criminal lead normal life

- The victim of liberation war deserve justice

- Those who helped the freedom fighters need to show profound respect

- If the criminals are not punished that will encourage crime
Prosecutor Rana Das Gupta : This is where our opening statement ends.

The opening statement was 42 pages in total.

Justice A.T.M. Fazle Kabir : The opening statement was well written and full of emotion. But I expect that both prosecution and defence will help us to be neutral.

Prosecutor Rana Das Gupta : Obviously My Lord.

Defence lawyer A.E.M. Khalilur Rahman: My Lord, I had a vital accident in 2010 and I am still taking treatment. It would have been great if the tribunal allow us with more time for preparing defence documents and list of witness.

Then A.E.M. Khalilur Rahman asked Prosecutor Rana Das Gupta whether he has any objection if the tribunal fix the next date after the holy month of Ramadan and Rana Das Gupta mentioned section 11(3) b which prevents the non-relevant delay of tribunal activities.

Defence Lawyer (junior) Tarikul Islam raised objection and said we want to inspect the mentioned picture of Abdul Alim with 26 people. The picture we have been given is not clear. One more thing is that our honourable Prosecutor Rana Das Gupta has called accused Abdul Alim ‘killer’, which he cannot say till the judgement.

Justice Obaidul Hassan : Prosecutor Rana Das Gupta brought the charge against him, he did not call him ‘killer’. What do you want to inspect specify it.

Tarikul Islam : The picture of Abdul Alim with 26 people.

Justice Shahinur Islam : You have to bring your prayer in the format of an application

Prosecutor Rana Das Gupta (to A.E.M. Khalilur Rahman): You have said that those 26 people are alive then what is the necessity of inspecting the picture?

A.E.M. Khalilur Rahman : My Lord, we will bring the application at the next hearing.

A.T.M. Fazle Kabir (to A.E.M. Khalilur Rahman): We are considering your physical inability and giving you the maximum time. If it would be someone else we would not allow this much time. Next hearing will be on 6 August, 2012. Please prepare your list of witness and other document.

A.E.M. Khalilur Rahman : Thank you My Lord.

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