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NBC, CBS news reports come to ICT-1

Posted on Thursday, May 10, 2012 | No Comments

Jamaat-e-Islami leader Delwar Hossain Sayedee's defence at the first war crimes tribunal continues to question the investigator on veracity of his evidences.

On Thursday, defence counsel Mizanul Islam began his questions regarding the two foreign TV reports of two US-based stations --NBC and CBS. The reports were broadcast in early 1972.

The International Crimes Tribunal – 1, set up to deal with crimes against humanity during the 1971 Liberation War, indicted the Jamaat executive council member on 20 counts of war crimes on Oct 3, 2011.

Appearing as the prosecution's 28th witness on his 6th day of cross examination, war crimes investigator ASP Mohammad Helal Uddin admitted that he did not know where CBS was based.

Helal Uddin also admitted that he made no attempt to find out where the station was based. Neither did the investigator make any attempt to interrogate the reporter or cameraman concerned.

The investigator had initially answered that the information was not in his records.

When asked whether he had tried to find out or conducted any investigation about the station, he had initially replied that his records did not show any such thing.

Prosecutor Sahidur Rahman stood up to defend the investigator's answer saying, "The records would have clearly shown if he had investigated along that line."

But the tribunal chairman, Justice Mohammad Nizamul Huq said the tribunal found this answer odd that the investigator would say his records don't have it and hence he did not know.

"The answer has to be 'I don't know'. And then there might be some more explanation."

Justice Huq drew a simple analogy to clarify the matter. "If there is a question like 'How much is 3+2?' then the answer cannot be 'It is not in the records'. He has to say 5. Whether that is right or wrong is a different matter."

Tribunal member Justice Anwarul Haque backed his chairman and told the prosecutor, "The only difference between other witnesses and this one is that he is allowed to consult his records during the cross examination but the others are not."

The investigator said that the CBS report was collected in the same process in which the NBC report was collected, meaning that the foreign ministry had provided the investigation agency with the reports.

But he admitted that he did not know how the two reports of two stations came to be in the same file that the investigator had submitted as exhibit 8.

When asked whether this report had any specific mention about Saydee, Helal Uddin said 'no'. He went on to add that the report, however, did mention that atrocities were committed all over the country. "Sayedee had committed similar crimes and he had investigated those crimes and submitted a report accordingly."

The tribunal agreed with the defence objection and expunged that last bit about Sayedee from the court records.

When the prosecution objected, Justice Huq summarily told them, "File an application then."

Prosecutor Rana Dasgupta noted down the question and answer before the court stenographer deleted that part of the answer.

Defence counsel Mizanul Islam continued his cross examination about other exhibits till lunch. He is set to resume after the recess.

First case to trial

Sayedee's is the first case to proceed to the trial stage at ICT 1. The prosecution on Sept 4 proposed framing of charges against him on 31 counts for crimes against humanity and genocide.

The tribunal also sent Jamaat's former chief Ghulam Azam to jail on Jan 11. His indictment hearing began on Feb 15 and the court is scheduled to give Azam's indictment order on May 13.

Jamaat chief Nizami, secretary general Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujaheed and assistant secretaries general Mohammad Kamaruzzaman and Abdul Quader Molla have been detained on war crimes charges.

BNP MP and standing committee member, Salauddin Quader Chowdhury, also behind bars, has been indicted for 23 charges on Apr 4. The prosecution has been ordered to begin with its opening statement on Apr 29.

Former BNP lawmaker and minister Abdul Alim is the only one out bail. With formal charges pressed against him, Alim saw his defence place his discharge petition on Monday. Further arguments followed on Wednesday. The hearing has been adjourned till May 14.

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