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Dhaka Tribune

First defence witness testifies in Alim case

Update : 27 Aug 2013, 06:28 PM

The first defence witness in the case against war crimes suspect Abdul Alim on Tuesday claimed that one Abbas Ali Khan, not Alim, was the president of Joypurhat district Peace Committee during the Liberation War.

Mamunur Rashid Chowdhury, 55, said they had lived at CO Colony, and the Peace Committee office was nearby.

At the beginning of deposition, the tribunal expressed its displeasure over the defence not providing a complete list of witnesses.

After the deposition, prosecutor Rana Das Gupta pleaded for adjournment as they were not prepared to cross-examine the defence witness. Granting him time, the tribunal directed him to start questioning the witness after the lunch break.

At the end of cross-examination, the tribunal set Sunday for producing other witnesses. The tribunal asked the defence to place two witnesses that day.

Alim, a former BNP state minister during the tenure of Ziaur Rahman, is facing 17 charges of crimes against humanity he allegedly committed during the Liberation War in Joypurhat as the district Peace Committee president.

Prosecution placed 35 witnesses against Alim. The 19th witness was declared “hostile” as he did not mention anything related to the accused. The defence has been allowed to place three witnesses.

In his deposition yesterday, the witness said he had seen many people coming to the house of one Hafiz Bihari.

The tribunal then intervened and Justice Md Mozibur Rahman Miah asked the defence whether the name of the witness was on the list, and if yes, the serial number. He told the defence: “You have to provide the names of witnesses before the day’s proceedings start. You have brought a person whose name is not in the witness list which you provided earlier.”

The defence said the name was on the list but could not tell the tribunal the serial number. The court was adjourned for 10 minutes. The judge questioned the defence on the whereabouts of its counsel Tajul Islam.

Justice Mozibur asked the witness: “When did you learn that you have to testify here?” Mamunur said Sazzad Faisal Alim, son of the accused, had asked him to give deposition in the case, around four to five days ago.

The tribunal asked the defence to find the witness’ name on the list submitted earlier and start recording the deposition again.

The witness said he had asked his father the reason for the large gatherings at the house of Hafiz Bihari. “He told me that the house was being used as the office of Abbas Ali Khan who was the president of Peace committee.”

At that moment, the defence informed the tribunal that the witness’ name was at number 2,805 on the list.

The witness further said it was a well-known fact that if anyone went to Abbas Ali to ask for the release of their relatives detained at the army camp, the Pakistani army would set them free. The army camp was at “Kuthibari.”

As he completed his deposition, defence counsel Ahsanul Haque asked him to narrate the incident at the market place that the witness had not mentioned. Tribunal member Justice Sahinur Islam said: “No other story. He has ended his part.”

During the cross-examination, the witness said he had not known the accused before he became MP from Joypurhat.

Alim was arrested on March 27, 2011, and has been on conditional bail since March 31 last year. He is accused of killing thousands of people in Joypurhat in collaboration with the Pakistani occupation army and committing crimes against humanity in the district in 1971.

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