Defence lawyer Ahsanul Haque for war crimes suspect Salauddin Quader Chowdhury claimed Tuesday that the prosecution failed to prepare case, for which, there were many inconsistencies in the depositions of witnesses.
After the defence’s arguments for the sixth day, the International Crimes Tribunal 1 adjourned the proceedings till today when the defence would get one hour to finish the arguments.
On July 24, the tribunal stopped deposition of defence witnesses as the defence repeatedly failed to produce their fifth and last witness. It set July 28 to July 30 for the prosecution to place their arguments, and July 31 to August 5 for the defence.
But the prosecution took one more day to complete the arguments. So the tribunal gave privilege to defence to end their arguments by August 6. But after that, defence counsel Ahsanul Haque said the defence must be given eight sessions since the prosecution had got eight sessions too.
Earlier, 41 witnesses testified against Salahuddin Quader, a six-time lawmaker from Chittagong. He is facing 23 charges of crimes against humanity he allegedly committed in 1971 in Raozan and Rangunia. He is the son of Convention Muslim League leader Fazlul Quader Chowdhury.
Three defence witnesses and Salahuddin Quader himself gave deposition in the case claiming that he had been in Pakistan since March 29, 1971 to April 20, 1974.
After Tuesday’s session, Salahuddin Quader requested for a half-day session. He told: “My humble submission is if you give us one half-day session for summing up the whole session.” However, his counsel sought one hour for summing up the arguments.
The accused said: “This is not a matter of ego; this is about my life. What will be the harm if you accept my plea?”
The tribunal chairman then discussed with the two other members and allowed the defence one more hour. The tribunal also told the prosecution to be prepared to begin their conclusion.
During the arguments on charge 3 concerning the murder of Nutan Chandra Singha, the defence yesterday said prosecution witness Gouranga Singha told in his deposition that he had seen a Pakistan army van at Kundeshwari while talking to Nutan, the owner of Kundeshwari Oushodhalaya. But later he said he did not see how many vans entered Kundeshwari on that day.
The defence also pointed at the inconsistencies in the statements of prosecution witnesses Siru Bangalee and Gopal. Lawyer Ahsanul said when one Bibhuti told Siru Bangalee that Salauddin Quader had ordered some Pakistan soldiers to kill Nutan, Gopal told the tribunal that during the murder, the accused said: “Father ordered to kill Nutan Singha.”
At that time, tribunal Chairman Justice ATM Fazle Kabir asked the defence counsel whether he was mentioning it as a contradiction. Ahsanul Huq answered: “When two different people tell different things about one incident, then it must be mentioned as a contradiction.”
He also claimed that Gopal, who is an eye witness in the Nutan Chandra murder, told the tribunal about one Brajahari with whom he had been hiding in Kundeshwari during the killing. But according to Profulla Chandra Singha, the son of Nutan Chandra, told the tribunal that the rooms of the house were locked. “Then how could Gopal hide there with Brajahari.” He also questioned about the identity of Brajahari saying that nobody said about his relation with Kundeshwari.
Barrister Fakhrul Islam, another defence counsel, told the tribunal that every defence witness, in their statement, mentioned they had met Salauddin Quader in Karachi during May-August 1971.
To prove the claim, Fakhrul placed documents that showed the accused had appeared in BA examination in August 1971 at Lahore University in political science department. He also placed academic certificates of his SSC, HSC and Dhaka University admission form to prove that Salahuddin Quader had lived in Dhaka and never gone to those places where the crimes took place.
Salauddin Quader often demands himself as a “self-educated” person.
Fakhrul also mentioned about the cross-examination of the accused by the prosecution, who asked Salauddin Quader whether he had returned to Bangladesh in 1974 illegally. By saying so, the defence lawyer claimed that the prosecution had accepted the accused had left the country on March 29, 1971 and returned in 1974.