The International Crimes Tribunal-1 yesterday began hearing the closing arguments of the prosecution in the war crimes case against former Jamaat-e-Islami chief Ghulam Azam.
On the first day, the prosecution briefly highlighted the nation's struggle for independence since the Partition in 1947 and how they would place their arguments in the upcoming days.
Ghulam Azam, considered by many as the symbol of crimes against humanity committed during the Liberation War, is facing five charges at the tribunal.
Tribunal-1 on Thursday closed recording defence witnesses' testimony as the defence in the case repeatedly failed to produce witnesses.
However, the defence yesterday came up with a new petition praying for permission to produce new witnesses, whose names were not on the list they had provided the tribunal with earlier.
The tribunal asked the defence whether they had submitted attendance of the new witnesses to the court.
Defence counsel Tajul Islam said they had not submitted the names, but if the tribunal granted their prayer, they would produce the witnesses.
He also claimed that three new witnesses were ready to testify.
The tribunal rejected their prayer.
Tajul then prayed to the tribunal to include their submission in its order and the tribunal accepted.
Tajul on several occasions last week had said they would not be able to produce witnesses as they were scared of the ongoing Shahbagh demonstrations.
The tribunal adjourned the case proceedings until today but defence counsel Mizanul Islam citing “personal reasons” yesterday prayed for adjourning today's proceedings.
Jamaat has called a countrywide daylong hartal today. The Jamaat defence team had earlier refrained from attending court proceedings during strikes or other protests organised by the party.
The tribunal suggested Mizanul that if the defence counsel felt it was too difficult to show up in court, he should send his juniors.
Regarding the closing arguments, the tribunal asked the defence and the prosecution to submit an index, in writing, of charges and corresponding documents and evidence as it would enable the court to follow the arguments better.
In the afternoon session, BNP leader Salauddin Quader Chowdhury himself completed cross-examination of 20th prosecution witness Sheikh Murshed in the war crimes case filed against him.
The tribunal adjourned the case proceedings until February 24.
The witness on Thursday said war crimes accused SQ Chowdhury had identified his father and brother for the Pakistan army to have them picked up during the Liberation War.
Murshed's father Sheikh Mozaffar Ahmed and brother Sheikh Alamgir never returned home.
SQ Chowdhury asked the witness whether he had seen any photograph of him [accused SQ Chowdhury] before that incident.
Murshed replied in the negative.
The witness said he did not know whether SQ Chowdhury was identified by any other villagers that day.
SQ Chowdhury suggested that the incident [of April 17, 1971] was totally untrue and has been created by the prosecution.
The witness said it was not true.