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Testimony against Jamaat trio

Ghulam Azam, Nizami, Mojaheed seen at torture centre, informer tells war crimes tribunal

An eyewitness yesterday testified that he had seen Jamaat-e-Islami leaders Ghulam Azam, Motiur Rahman Nizami and Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed at a Pakistan army and their collaborators' camp at Mohammadpur during the Liberation War.

All three Jamaat leaders are facing trial in connection with the crimes against humanity committed during the Liberation War.

The Mohammadpur Physical Training College was the torture and training centre of Al-Badr and Razakar forces as well as a camp of the Pakistani army during the nine-month-long war, Rustam Ali Molla, an informer of freedom fighters told the International Crimes Tribunal-2.

Rustam, the fifth prosecution witness in the crimes against humanity case against Mojaheed, narrated how the anti-liberation forces and the Pakistani army tortured and killed intellectuals at the fag end of the war.

The 58-year-old witness identified Mojaheed in the dock who listened to the vivid description Rustam gave about the crimes committed by Pakistan army and its auxiliary forces.

According to prosecution documents, Motiur Rahman Nizami was the chief of the Al-Badr high command of the whole of Pakistan while Mojaheed was chief of East Pakistan Al-Badr in 1971.

Earlier, Zahir Uddin Jalal, the second prosecution witness in the case also know as Bichchu Jalal, testified that Mohammadpur Physical Training College was the headquarters of the Al-Badr force where “Al-Badr Commanders Nizami and Mojaheed” in association with the Pakistani army used to train Al-Badr men.

The three-member tribunal headed by Justice ATM Fazle Kabir with members Justice Obaidul Hassan and Judge M Shahinur Islam recorded Rustam's testimony before adjourning the case proceedings until today when Rustam would face cross-examination.

During his 45-minute testimony, Rustam said his father was a guard of Mohammadpur Physical Training College in 1971 and he along with his family members were living in the fourth-class staff quarters in the college compound.

Occupying the college on the night of March 25, 1971, the Pakistani army picked 100/150 East Pakistan Regiment members from Pilkhana and kept them detained inside the gymnasium of the college.

“After some days, Pakistani army tortured them to death,” said Rustam adding, “After a few days, Pakistan army picked common people, freedom fighters, intellectuals and women and tortured them.”

“Keeping them confined to the principal's quarters in the college, they used to torture women and their torture was so severe that some women were killed due to torture,” said the witness, adding, “They cut off breast of the women who protested and some of the women died for this reason.”

Three-four months into the war, the training of Razakars and Al-Badr forces began at the college ground, said Rustam.

“One day, when I was on my way to the market, I saw Ghulam Azam, Nizami Shaheb and Mohammad Mojaheed Shaheb at the college gate in a vehicle of Panjabis [Pakistani army],” said Rustam.

“I didn't know them. On-duty Razakars and Al Badr members were saying that Ghulam Azam, Motiur Rahman Nizami and Mohammad Mojaheed arrived at the college and then I identified them,” said Rustam.

“They went inside.”

Rustam had decided to go to India for training to fight for freedom.

“Four-five months into the war, I met Bichchu Jalal on the way to the freedom fighters' camp at Atibazar of Keraniganj. Jalal was familiar to me,” said Rustam.

Jalal told Rustam that as he was living inside the training college, the main camp of Al-Badr force, Rustam did not need to go to India, rather he should collect and supply information about the camp to freedom fighters, said the witness.

After that Jalal and their fellow freedom fighters decided to attack the training college, said Rustam.

Jalal in his testimony before the tribunal had said Rustam was their informant.

He said six-seven months into the war, the Pakistani army, Razakar and Al-Badr forces started to bring intellectuals, lawyers, and singers and tortured them.

“Pak Sena [Pakistani army personnel], Razakar and Al-Badr members killed many of the detained people while torturing them at the students dining hall [of the college] and dumped their bodies at Rayerbazar killing field and other areas,” said Rustam.

Some were killed at Rayerbazar too, he said.

“Pak Sena, Razakar and Al-Badr members brutally killed more intellectuals, singers and freedom fighters bringing them to the college camp seven-eight days ahead of victory [December 16],” said Rustam.

Rustam said he found 100-150 gouged out eyes of people behind the physical training college and showed them to Jalal.

On Victory Day, when the Pakistan army left the college for cantonment, Razakars and Al-Badr members fled the camp shaving off their beards and moustaches,” said Rustam.

“Before leaving the camp, they slit the throat of the Bangalee physician who lived inside the camp and looked after them. I recovered the body of the physician.”

The day after the victory, Rustam found nine heads beside the gymnasium, said the witness.

Mojaheed is facing seven charges of crimes against humanity, including murder, genocide and hatching a conspiracy to kill intellectuals during the nine-month-long war.

Meanwhile, former Jamaat chief Ghulam Azam's son Brig Gen (dismissed) Abdullahil Amaan Azmi yesterday spent one and a half hours of his deposition in correcting grammatical and spelling errors of his first day's testimony at Tribunal-1.

Azmi yesterday signed a copy of the testimony with a note for correction which came to the notice of the tribunal.

Before recording the testimony at about 2:15pm yesterday, the tribunal Chairman Md Nizamul Huq brought up the matter and expressed unhappiness with the defence counsel's performance.

“Monitor is set up before you [defence], the prosecution, and us [the tribunal judges] and in the dock of the accused to avoid mistakes,” he said.

“Do you perform your responsibility properly?” Justice Nizamul Huq asked the defence counsels.

The tribunal also reminded the defence that from now on it would not amend depositions and if there were mistakes in future, the defence would be responsible for that.

The proceeding of the case was adjourned until November 18.

Meanwhile, another eyewitness yesterday testified that in presence of a Pakistani army officer, war crimes accused Abdul Alim interrogated detainees at a Pakistani army camp in Joypurhat during the Liberation War.

Solaiman Ali Fakir, a detainee at the army camp at Joypurhat Sugar Mill who had faced the so-called interrogation, yesterday testified against Abdul Alim in the crimes against humanity case at Tribunal-2.

Solaiman, the fifth prosecution witness in the case, also said along with other Shanti Committee leaders, former Convention Muslim League leader Alim was present when Pakistani army attacked Panchbibi on April 20, 1971.

Earlier, Abdus Samad Mondal, Solaiman's nephew who was also detained at the army camp, testified that Alim along with a Pakistani army officer used to hold “trials” of people detained at the camp and kill captives issuing “verdicts”.

During his one-hour testimony, the 71-year-old witness from Panchbibi gave a description about his confinement very similar to his nephew's.

Alim, the 81-year-old politician and former minister of Ziaur Rahman's cabinet, was present in the courtroom yesterday during Solaiman's testimony.

On June 11, the tribunal framed 17 specific charges of crimes against humanity against Alim, which included genocide, murder of Bangalee civilians, and burying people alive.

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