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War Crimes Trial

Four to defend Kamaruzzaman

The International Crimes Tribunal-2 yesterday allowed four witnesses to defend Jamaat-e-Islami leader Muhammad Kamaruzzaman in the charges of crimes against humanity brought against him.

The three-member tribunal led by Justice Obaidul Hassan with members Justice Mozibur Rahman Miah and Judge M Shahinur Islam also continued recording cross-examination of Abdur Razzaque Khan, the investigation officer of the case, for the fourth day.

During the cross-examination, question was raised about the Master's certificate and date of the examination of the war crimes accused.

The tribunal also extended time for three top Jamaat leaders until February 26 to explain why contempt of court charges would not be initiated against them for making provocative and derogatory remarks about the court.

It also ordered Jamaat acting secretary general Rafiqul Islam Khan, Central Executive Council member Hamidur Rahman Azad, also a lawmaker, and its Dhaka city unit Assistant Secretary General Selim Uddin to appear before the court on a fresh date.

4 TO DEFEND KAMARUZZAMAN
On July 15 last year, the defence submitted a list of 1,354 witnesses to defend Kamaruzzaman, who was indicted with seven charges of crimes against humanity he had allegedly committed during the Liberation War in 1971.

The prosecution on Monday submitted a petition for limiting the number of defence witnesses in the case to “avoid unreasonable delay” and the tribunal heard the petition on Tuesday.

The tribunal yesterday allowed only four defence witnesses and asked the defence to adduce their witnesses without any adjournment.

EXPLAIN PROVOKING COMMENTS
On February 7, the tribunal on its own asked the Jamaat trio to appear before the court yesterday with their explanation as to why contempt proceeding would not be initiated against them.

The Jamaat leaders' lawyer Shahadat Hossain told the tribunal his clients could not appear before the court due to “unavoidable situations” and sought time.

The tribunal fixed February 26 for their appearance before the court.

The tribunal issued the notice on the basis of reports published in The Daily Star and the Prothom Alo on February 5. The dailies published the reports on a Jamaat rally held in the city on February 4.

Bangla daily Prothom Alo quoted Selim Uddin as saying at the Jamaat rally: “There is no scope for the controversial tribunal to deliver any verdict if the country is to be saved from a civil war.”

It quoted Azad as saying at the same programme, “This tribunal cannot exist anymore.”

The Daily Star in a report headlined “Jamaat warns of civil war” quoted Rafiqul Islam as saying, “Don't push the country into a civil war by delivering one-sided verdicts against our leaders. If anything happens against Quader Mollah, every house will be on fire.”

QUESTION ABOUT KAMARUZZAMAN'S MA CERTIFICATE
During around four-hour cross-examination, defence counsel Kafil Uddin Chowdhury asked Razzaque, also the 18th prosecution witness in case, questions mostly about his field level investigations and raised “contradiction” between the prosecution witnesses' statements to the investigation office and their testimonies before the court.

In reply to a question, Razzaque said Kamaruzzaman passed the HSC examination from Mymensingh Nasirabad College in 1972.

When Razzaque said Kamaruzzaman took part in the HSC exam from jail in 1972, the tribunal did not accept his explanation, as the defence asked the tribunal not to allow his explanation during his cross-examination.

“The HSC examination was held in May in 1972,” said Kafil Uddin.

“I don't know,” Razzaque replied.

As per the prosecution document, Kamaruzzaman was arrested in Dhaka on December 29, 1971 and at least two newspapers published his name as a detained collaborator on December 31, 1971.

At one stage of the cross-examination, Kafil claimed that Kamaruzzaman had passed MA from Dhaka University in 1975 and said, “It's not true and informed that Kamaruzzaman enrolled at Dhaka University in 1975 and passed Master's in 1978.”

Razzaque replied, “It's not true. Kamaruzzaman enrolled for MA [first part] on April 18, 1975, in Mass Communication and Journalism department of Dhaka University and second part on August 10, 1976.”

The tribunal also said whether it is possible to pass MA in 1975 by a student who had passed HSC in 1972 and wanted to see his original MA certificate.

The defence submitted photocopy of his certificate saying the original was not in their hand at that time.

“You didn't bring your original copy but you are disputing an original document of Dhaka University [given by the investigation officer]. We can raise question about your photocopy document,” said the tribunal.

When the tribunal found the date “June 28, 1978” on the left and lower part of the photocopy certificate, it asked about the spelling “Dhaka” of “Dhaka University”.

“Dhaka” was supposed to be written as “Dacca” in the documents before HM Ershad took power in the 80s, said the tribunal.

“This creates a lot of suspicion among us,” said the tribunal and asked the defence to submit the original certificate within 4:30pm yesterday.

When the defence submitted the original certificate at 4:10pm, Kamaruzzaman's counsel Shishir Manir said Dhaka University syndicate approved the certificate on June 28, 1978, but the certificate was issued to Kamaruzzaman in 1992.

After 1987, “Dhaka University” was written in this form instead of “University of Dacca”, said Shishir Manir.

The tribunal kept the original certificate to them and adjourned the case proceeding until February 24.

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