Published: Thursday, April 4, 2013

Kamaruzzman's Case

Defence starts placing final arguments

The defence of Jamaat-e-Islam leader Muhammad Kamaruzzaman yesterday started placing the closing arguments before the International Crimes Tribunal-2 challenging the war crimes charges framed against their client.
During a four-hour submission, chief defence counsel Abdur Razzaq placed arguments on the first charge and probative value of hearsay witnesses.
At one point of his arguments, Razzaq, also an assistant secretary general of Jamaat, said war criminals should be tried.
“War criminals should be tried if there is one among the 15 crore people of the country. But, no innocent person should be punished,” Razzaq added.
The three-member tribunal led by Justice Obaidul Hassan with members Justice Mozibur Rahman Miah and Judge M Shahinur Islam heard his arguments before adjourning the proceeding until today when Razzaq is set to place further arguments.
In the beginning, Razzaq said he would not place submission on legal points, on which, the tribunal had given their conscious view in the earlier judgement. He, however, prayed to the tribunal to keep the matter in the judgement so that the defence could argue over the matter in case of appeals.
He then started arguments on the first of seven war crimes charges framed against his party colleague Kamaruzzaman, another assistant secretary general of Jamaat.
The first charge says a group of Al-Badr members under the leadership of Kamaruzzaman on June 29, 1971 abducted Badiuzzaman, son of Md Fazlul Haque, in Ramnagar village under Jhenaigati upazila in Sherpur.
The victim was tortured at Ahammednagar army camp all night long and shot to death the following day.
Razzaq said fourth prosecution witness Fakir Abdul Mannan and sixth prosecution witness Md Hasanuzzaman, Badiuzzaman’s brother, had given their testimonies in support of the charge. But both of them were hearsay witnesses.
Razzaq said there were “inconsistencies” between the testimonies of Mannan and Hasanuzzaman.
Mannan testified that Badiuzzaman had taken shelter in Ahammednagar as he could not go to India, but Hasanuzzaman said his bother had gone to his father-in-law’s house at Ahammednagar to recce the nearby army camp, Razzaq pointed out.
Mannan testified that Al-Badr men and Pakistani army had abducted Badiuzzaman, while Hasanuzzaman said a group of armed men had taken his brother to Ahammednagar army camp, said Razzaq, adding, “This is a material inconsistency.”
At that point, the tribunal asked, “How much value does such inconsistency carry in minor details in such cases after so many days?”
Razzaq said the “burden of proof” and “standard of proof” for the prosecution remained the same even after 40 years of the commission of crimes.
He added Mannan had testified that Ahmed Ali Member, father-in-law of Hasanuzzaman, was a Peace Committee member, but Hasanuzzaman refuted it during cross-examination.
“He was not telling the truth before the court. So, you [judges] could not rely on him [to prove the charges],” Razzaq added.
On September 3, 2012, Hasanuzzaman testified that Kamaruzzaman and his accomplices had abducted his brother, who was tortured at a military camp in Sherpur and was later gunned down on June 30, 1971.
Citing Mannan’s testimony, Razzaq said Sayadur Rahman, who was uncle-in-law of Hasanuzzaman, had heard about the abduction, but Sayadur’s brother Makbul Hossain had seen the incident.
But Hasanuzzaman testified that Sayadur Rahman had clearly identified Kamaruzzaman on that night.
This was “material inconsistency”, said Razzaq, questioning, “How you [judges] will be satisfied that the prosecution could have proved the charge beyond reasonable doubts?”
But citing Mannan’s rest part of the testimony, the tribunal said Mannan had talked to Makbul after talking with Sayadur and Makbul told him “it was a true incident”.
Makbul told Mannan that Al-Badr members and Pakistani army had also picked him, but he had managed to flee on the way to Ahammednagar camp, Mannan said.
“I asked him [Makbul] whether he could have identified anyone [of Al-Badr men]. He said he had identified one Kamaruzzaman who lived in Sherpur,” Mannan had testified, adding, “There is huge hearsay in Sherpur that the present assistant secretary general Kamaruzzaman is the person whom I mentioned.”
The tribunal asked whether Razzaq found inconsistency in that statement of Mannan.
“The event of taking the victim [Badiuzzaman] to the [Ahammednagar] army camp and his killing, do you dispute these facts?” asked the tribunal.
“We are not disputing the killing of Badiuzzaman, but we dispute the description of his abduction given [by witnesses] implicating the accused [Kamaruzzaman],” replied Razzaq.
After lunch break, when Razzaq resumed arguments, he said Hasanuzzaman, in his testimony, had said after independence, he talked with Sayadur, Makbul and others about his brother’s death.
But Hasanuzzaman said during cross-examination his relative Jamshed Ali had informed them about his brother’s killing within a few days of the incident.
“After the Liberation War, I talked with Sayadur Rahman, Makbul Hossain and Jamshed Ali as well as the labourers who had seen my brother’s murder,” Hasanuzzaman had testified, adding, “Upon their information, I filed a case against 11 people including Al-Badr leader Kamaruzzaman [after the war].”
Citing Hasanuzzaman’s testimony, the tribunal said Hasanuzzaman had got “knowledge about the killing” from Jamshed during the war but got details from his in-laws after the war.
But Hasanuzzaman did not mention the matter in his testimony, which was “contradiction”, Razzaq said.
“Why it would be contradiction? It was additional information,” observed the tribunal chairman, while another member said, “It [the additional information] affirmed the incident.”
Citing from the statements Hasanuzzaman and Mannan had given to the investigation officer of the case, Razzaq said their testimonies, in many cases, contradicted with their statements.
He added their testimonies “contradicted” with each other and even with their statements before the investigator so their testimonies were “totally unreliable”.
Citing instances from the Supreme Court and different war crimes tribunals abroad, Razzaq said, “Corroboration, either direct, or circumstantial witness is a must for hearsay witnesses.”
But on March 31, prosecutor Tureen Afroz, citing instances from different war crimes cases, said it was very much “settled jurisprudence” of international law that hearsay evidence was admissible and even the tribunal admitted hearsay evidence in the case against war crimes convict Abdul Quader Mollah.