Sunday, November 25, 2012

Evidence of abduction? Look at the tribunal CCTV

The International Crimes Tribunal may have important evidence that could help determine the truth of the allegation made by the defense lawyers that one of its witnesses, Sukhoranjan Bali was abducted by the law enforcement authorities from outside the tribunal gates on 5 November.

This is the footage from at least 16 CCTV cameras which are located throughout the inside of the tribunal and outside. A screen showing images coming from these cameras is on both the desks of the registrar and the tribunal chairman, Nizamul Huq.

Officials within the tribunal have confirmed that footage is kept for 30 days in the computer hard discs before it gets wiped off. The registrar also confirmed to me that no-one has looked at the footage in the context of the alleged abduction on 5 November to see what it shows (though see below).

There are images from a number of these cameras that might assist in helping to corroborate different aspects of the incident and surrounding circumstances.

Rule 46A of the Tribunal's rules of procedure states:
"Nothing in these Rules shall be deemed to limit or otherwise affect the inherent power of the Tribunal to make such order(s) as may be necessary to meet the ends of justice or to prevent abuse of the process.”
This power can easily be used - indeed should already have been used? - to initiate an independent investigation (with perhaps both the involvement of a defense and prosecution representative) into this incident.

Since, the footage has not been looked at till now, the tribunal should immediately take action to ensure that (with the assistance of the defense, prosecution and registrar) it is is looked at carefully to see whether it can provide any further information on the alleged abduction that took place on 5 November.

Below is set out what the footage could show.

Bali in court on the 4th
The incident happened on the 5th morning - but the credibility of the abduction allegation is increased if  it can be substantiated that, as the defense lawyers claim, the day before Bali was in court hoping to give evidence.

The defense claim that Bali was in the court's defense room (which is located on the first floor of the tribunal) for most of the day on the 4th November. This, they say was because the defense's application to allow Bali to attend as a witness at the tribunal was due for hearing. Md Hasanul Banna Sohag says that he was the defense lawyer who brought Bali into court on that day and says that he wrote a false name, 'Atis sen' in the register to ensure that there was no problem in his entering the tribunal, and the register book appears to support this. However, it is possible that 'Atis Sen' refers to another person and not Bali.

Bali's presence in the defense room has been corroborated by another lawyer  - but since this lawyer represents another Jamaat accused, this will not be seen by many to amount to independent confirmation.

There are two CCTV camera which are right at the entranceway of the main court building, in the alcove where the registration takes place. Looking at the footage from these cameras should be able to confirm whether or not Bali came to the tribunal that day.

In addition inside the foyer of the tribunal, there are cameras that should also show whether or not Bali entered into the tribunal.

Outside the front gate of the tribunal on the 5th

From inside tribunal grounds: camera on pole directly in
front of the front gate where Bali is alleged to have been
taken by the plain cloths police.
There is a CCTV camera (see picture on right) that appears to cover an area that includes around the front gate of the tribunal premises where defense lawyer's car stops. It is at this point the three lawyers and Bali are supposed to have got out of the car, and then three plain clothes police man stepped in to take him away.

The tribunal registrar says that this camera does not cover this area, but covers the inside area of the tribunal. If so, then then the camera was very oddly located as its view would then be obstructed by the post on which it is located as well as by the tree which surrounds it.

From outside the front gate: White pole, directly in front of
tree and white van, has the camera located on it 

It appears that this camera is moving through a 180 /360 degree turn and so even assuming that this camera covered the front gate, may not have covered the incident at the time.

However all the pictures of that morning need to be looked at

Movement of police car from inside the tribunal
These is a close up of the
type of CCTV camera
close to two gates
The lawyers claim that the police car  into which Bali was put came from inside the tribunal premises to a different gate (at the back of the tribunal).

The mobile phone picture of the police car (see picture numbered 1 on this page) does suggest that the police car did come from inside the tribunal, but there is no other independent evidence.

There is a CCTV camera in the car park, which would appear to be able to see up the narrow path toward the gate - and so it is possible that it would have captured the movement of this police car being first parked inside the tribunal premises and then moving towards the back gate of the tribunal. This camera was also, it appears, a moving camera, so it may not have been looking in the right direction when the police car was moving

Deputy Registrar, Mesbahuddin Ahmed
The deputy register says that he was present at the gate at a time shortly after the abduction is alleged to have taken place, whilst the defense argue that whilst he did come to the gate, it was some time after the abduction - after when Tajul Islam had berated the security guards at the gate. A number of CCTV cameras both inside and outside the tribunal building should have captured the time when he went out of the court and walked towards the gate.

The CCTV footage may well hold important information about this alleged abduction. It is important that it is looked at in a way that all parties consider credible.

- A change was made on 28 November: Originally the last section said that the 'deputy register says he was present at the gate when the abduction would have taken place.'

This has been changed to  'The duty register says that he was present at the gate at a time shortly after the abduction is alleged to have taken place ..' It also adds the phrase ' - after when Tajul Islam had berated the security guards at the gate.'


  1. The statement which has been published in this blog referring me is not correctly and properly published. The statement published in Daily Star and Daily Prothom Alo on 6 November 2012, is correct and proper.

    Mesbah Uddin Ahmed
    Deputy Registrar

  2. This comment above made by the deputy register relates to the original version of this post which erroneously stated that he was 'present at the gate when the abduction would have taken place.' In fact he came a little time afterwards
    (though exactly when is a matter of some dispute between him and the defense lawyers.) This was corrected in the post as soon as the deputy register informed me of it and this post now makes clear that he came to the gate a little later. However, it should be noted that my detailed interview with the deputy register (which was linked to this post) was originally published 12 days earlier, and can be seen here, and this was an accurate record of what took place.

  3. Its more important to establish that Abduction has been taken place outside the tribunal court than who was present at the scene of abduction. if it has been taken place it need to move forward to find out who ordered this abduction and why?