Iftekhar Haider Chowdhury, nephew of martyred intellectual Mofazzal Haider Chowdhury, tuesday told the International Crimes Tribunal 2 how his uncle had been abducted on December 14, 1971.
He said while the men had been taking the victim away “my father scratched off the mask of one of them. My uncle [Mofazzal Haider Chowdhury] then identified Chowdhury Mueen and asked him, ‘are you Mueen?’ Then the person replied, ‘yes sir, I was your student once upon a time.’
Martyred Mofazzal Haider Chowdhury was a professor at the Bangla department of Dhaka University. He was a gold medallist student and got a masters’ degree from Visva-Bharati University.
After his deposition at the International Crimes Tribunal 2, defence counsel Abdus Shukur Khan began his cross-examination. Later, Justice Obaidul Hassan adjourned the proceedings for the day till today for further questioning.
The witness said he was just seven years’ old then but as they stayed at the same house, he witnesses the incident.
In his deposition the witness said: “Channel 4, a UK television channel, made a documentary named ‘War Crimes File’ where my mother Doly Chowdhury gave an interview. She said at the time of abduction of my uncle she and other members of the family could identify Chowdhury Mueen Uddin.”
As an exhibit, the prosecution tuesday displayed the documentary at the tribunal.
The witness claimed that after the liberation, “daily Purbadesh published a report on crimes of Mueen Uddin and Ashrafuzzaman, I saw it then.”
Mueen Uddin had been working at the newspaper during the 1971 Liberation War. As per the prosecution, he was the “operation-in-chief” of para militia force al-Badr, which is accused of abduction, torture and assassination of intellectuals, and Ashrafuzzaman Khan was the “chief executor.”
The tribunal jointly indicted the accused in 11 counts of crimes against humanity. The charges include killing of 18 intellectuals, of whom nine were Dhaka University teachers, six journalists and three doctors.
The witness said: “On December 14, 1971, an armed group of al-Badr men came to our house Shantibagh. When they knocked at the door, my father Lutful Haider Chowdhury opened it. Five to six armed persons asked him, ‘where is Mofazzal Haider Chowdhury.’ They were all masked. When my father denied to tell them about my uncle, they entered the house forcefully. Then my uncle came forward and said ‘I am Mofazzal Haider Chowdhury.’ After that they took him away saying that he would be back after interrogation.”
He continued that after the liberation on December 16, Luful Haider and another uncle went out in search of his uncle, but failed. At that time, the families of Munier Chowdhury, Dr Alim Chowdhury, Shahidullah Kaiser, Anwar Pasha and Rashedul Hasan were also searching for the bodies. “My family went to many killing grounds including those in Rayerbazar and Mohammadpur, but they did not find my uncle’s body.”
Prosecutor Shahidur Rahman told the tribunal that the elder son of Mofazzal Haider Chowdhury, Taslim Sumon Haider Chowdhury, was listed as a witness in this case.
But he died at 2011 while the wife of the intellectual died at 1990. As Taslim gave statement to the investigation officer, the prosecution placed it before the tribunal under Section 19 (2) of the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act 1973.
The trial is underway in absentia since the accused did not appear at the tribunal.
Since the duo did not respond to the tribunal’s order, it appointed lawyers Abdus Shukur Khan and Salma Hye. The prosecution submitted formal charges against the accused on April 25.