Published: Thursday, March 14, 2013

Brother defends Kamaruzzaman

War crimes accused Muhammad Kamaruzzaman’s elder brother yesterday tried to prove an alibi that Kamaruzzaman was in his village home in Mudipara of Sherpur throughout the Liberation War.
Five out of the seven war crimes charges brought against Jamaat-e-Islami leader Kamaruzzaman were based on incidents happening elsewhere in Sherpur and two in Mymensingh.
The prosecution had witnesses who testified that Kamaruzzaman was in the places where the crimes took place.
However, Kafiluddin told the International Crimes Tribunal-2 yesterday in his testimony that his brother Kamaruzzaman was arrested at the fag end of 1971 as a collaborator suspect.
But three months later his brother was released from jail, said Kafiluddin, the fourth defence witness who runs a stationery shop in Sherpur town.
Investigation officer of the war crimes case Abdur Razzaque Khan, on February 11, had told the tribunal that Kamaruzzaman was listed as an arrested Al-Badr collaborator after liberation.
In his deposition, Kafiluddin said his brother enrolled for ISc (intermediate course) in Ashik Mahmud College in Jamalpur after securing first division in SSC (now secondary school certificate) in 1967.
But Kamaruzzaman did not sit for the ISC exams as he was sick, said the defence witness. The witness failed to mention the year.
He refused to take the exams with juniors and enrolled in Mymensingh Nasirabad College, said Kafiluddin.
The tribunal at this stage adjourned the proceedings for some time as the witness was not feeling well.
After the break, Kafiluddin said Kamaruzzaman enrolled in Nasirabad College and the “movement” began in the country.
Kafiluddin said his mother had asked him to bring Kamaruzzaman home from Mymensingh.
“I went to Mymensingh and brought him [Kamaruzzaman] to our village home,” he said.
The defence witness claimed that his brother was never involved in politics while studying in school or college.
“In 1972, he took the exams from Nasirabad College and secured second division. After that he left for Dhaka for higher studies,” he said.
Following the testimony, prosecutor Mohammad Ali cross-examined the defence witness.
Ali asked Kafiluddin whether he knew that Kamaruzzaman was arrested on December 29, 1971, as a leader of Razakar and Al-Badr (auxiliary forces to the Pakistani army).
Kafiluddin said, “…my brother was arrested as suspected collaborator at Kamalapur Railway Station in Dhaka.” Kafiluddin learnt about the arrest about 7-8 days later through a postcard from Kamaruzzaman.
In reply to another question, Kafiluddin said Kamaruzzaman was not the chief organiser of Razakar and Al-Badr of greater Mymensingh and that he had no contact with Pakistani army camps during the war.
He said Kamaruzzaman was not the president of Islami Chhatra Sangha [then student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami] of greater Mymensingh and that he had no involvement in the killings and mass killings.
A book on the accounts of the killers and collaborators of the Liberation War titled: “Ekattorer Ghatak O Dalalera Ke Kothaye”, exhibited as prosecution document, contains a report of Bangla daily Sangram of August 16, 1971.
It says that Kamaruzzaman as the then “chief of the Mymensingh district Islami Chhatra Sangha” presided over a programme organised by Al-Badr force at Mymensingh in 1971 to mark the Pakistan Independence Day.
The last paragraph of page-111 and first paragraph of page-112 of the book reads, “As soon as the voluntary force of the Al-Badr was formed in Jamalpur, the leaders of the Jamaat realised that not only could the armed [Islami] Chhatra Sangha be used to fight the Mukti Bahini [freedom fighters] but that they could also serve as an effective squad to kill the intellectuals.
“Accordingly, the Chhatra Sangha of the Mymensingh district was turned into the Al-Badr force, and provided with military training.”
“The man responsible for organising the Chhatra Sangha to merge with Al-Badr was the chief of the Mymensingh district Islami Chhatra Sangha, Kamaruzzaman, at present [when the book was published] is the Press Secretary of Jamaat,” it says, adding, “Under Kamaruzzaman, the entire body of workers belonging to the Mymensingh district Chhatra Sangha joined the Al-Badr within a month.”
Kamaruzzaman, facing seven charges based on seven acts of crime against humanity that left at least 183 unarmed people dead and some women raped, was produced before the tribunal yesterday.
The three-member tribunal yesterday was annoyed at the prosecutor’s repeated questioning and poorly coordinated quizzing method.
The Tribunal-2 led by Justice Obaidul Hassan with members Justice Md Mozibur Rahman Miah and Judge M Shahinur Islam adjourned the proceeding until March 18.
The Tribunal-2 ordered the defence to produce their next witness on that day.
Laily Begum, the 12th prosecution witness, yesterday during cross-examination told the Tribunal-2 that war crimes accused Abdul Alim was the chairman of the Peace Committee of Joypurhat.
On Monday, Laily, daughter of martyred Awami League leader Abul Kashem of Joypurhat in her testimony said her father was abducted and tortured in Joypurhat during the Liberation War on Alim’s instructions and he was eventually killed.
Defence counsel Ahsanul Haque Hena cross-examined the prosecution witness yesterday.
The defence counsel suggested that she and her brother had not pleaded to Alim to have their father released.
“It’s not true,” the witness said.
On June 11, 2012, the tribunal indicted Alim, also a former BNP lawmaker from Joypurhat, on 17 charges of crimes against humanity, including genocide, murder of Bangalee civilians, and burning people alive during the Liberation War.
Meanwhile, Tribunal-1 yesterday heard the closing arguments of the defence in the war crimes case against former Jamaat chief Ghulam Azam.
Defence counsel Mizanul Islam said during the Liberation War in 1971 the media did not have any freedom of speech.
The prosecution earlier submitted documents and newspaper clippings of that time through which they tried to establish that Azam plotted against the Liberation War, hatched conspiracy, incited civilians and had complicity in the war crimes.
The defence counsel argued that the published “speeches” of Ghulam Azam during the war were biased.
However, according to prosecution exhibits the Jamaat-e-Islami mouthpiece daily Sangram ran some news at that time on the abovementioned charges brought against Ghulam Azam.
Mizanul also made argument on prosecution witnesses yesterday.
The proceeding of the case was adjourned until today.