Eight murders in SQ Chy’s 77 war crimes

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Date : Monday, 16 January 2012
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Formal charges read out to tribunal

Staff Correspondent

The prosecution yesterday told the International Crimes Tribunal that BNP leader Salauddin Quader Chowdhury had been involved in at least 15 acts of genocide and eight murders during the Liberation War of 1971.

He was also involved in at least 11 acts of torture, nine acts of abduction, 10 acts of confinement, eight acts of persecution, eight acts of bodily harm, seven acts of deportation and a rape, said prosecutor Zead Al Malum during the hearing on charge framing against the lawmaker from Chittagong.

The crimes add up to 77 committed in 25 incidents during the Liberation War, the prosecutor said.

The formal charges, submitted on November 14, were read out before the tribunal yesterday. The three-judge tribunal headed by its Chairman Justice Nizamul Huq adjourned the hearing until January 23.

At one point of the hearing, Salauddin Quader had a heated exchange of words with the tribunal. The tribunal chief even cautioned him.

Salauddin Quader immediately apologised to the court.

Prosecutor Zead Al Malum narrated before the tribunal how Salauddin had committed crimes against humanity in several areas in greater Chittagong during the Liberation War.

The crimes include murdering civilians, collaborating with the Pakistani occupation army to kill and torture unarmed people, loot valuables, torch houses and other properties, persecute people on religious and political grounds, and commit atrocities on Hindus.

Narrating one of the incidents, Malum said the Pakistani army at around 9:00am on April 13, 1971, dragged Natun Chandra Singha, founder of herbal medicine brand Kundeshwari Oushadhalaya, out of a temple at Madhya Bahira village in Raozan in the presence of Salauddin Quader. Natun was then busy in prayers.

Pakistani soldiers later gunned him down in his own yard. For good measure, Salauddin Quader Chowdhury fired the last shot.

According to the prosecutor, Salauddin killed Natun Chandra Singha to root out the Hindus as Natun was “a symbol of hope and expectation” for the Hindu community there.

Salauddin Quader along with the Pakistan occupation forces also abducted Arobindu Sarkar, Motilal Chowdhury, Arun Chowdhury, Shanti Kusum Chowdhury, Jogesh Chandra Dey and Paritosh Dash from Adharmanik village in Chittagong on April 4 or April 5, 1971, said Malum.

They were taken to the “torture cell” of Salauddin Quader’s Goods Hill home in Raozan, then brutally tortured and killed, he claimed.

Zead Al Malum said Salauddin Quader in the afternoon of April 13, 1971, conducted an armed operation in Uasatturpara village in Raozan of Chittagong with his followers and Pakistani soldiers. Some 60 to 70 people of the Hindu dominated area were killed in his presence.

On the morning of April 20, 1971, Salauddin’s followers conducted an armed operation in Shapura village of Boalkhali in Chittagong, said Malum during yesterday’s hearing. A total of 76 people, including Foyez Ahmed, Jalal Ahmed, Habilder Sekandar Ali, Amir Hamza and Abdul Hashim of that area were later killed on Salauddin’s orders, the prosecutor claimed.

“There are numerous such incidents,” said Zead Al Malum, adding, “We framed the charges based on 25 incidents.”

He read out a list of names, including Shantidev, Satish Chandra, Ekhlas Miah, Nizam Uddin, M Salimullah, and said they were either murdered or brutally tortured by Salauddin Quader Chowdhury.

Yesterday’s proceedings started at 10:38am with commotion in the courtroom. Salauddin and his newly appointed counsel AHM Ahsanul Huq Hena were having a row inside the courtroom.

Salauddin appointed Hena his defence counsel, replacing M Badiuzzaman, who had been appointed by the tribunal to defend Salauddin on December 12 after he refused to appoint a lawyer. The tribunal yesterday recalled the appointment of M Badiuzzaman as Salauddin’s lawyer since he had appointed a lawyer on his own.

When Hena stood before the court to make a submission at the beginning of the proceedings yesterday, the tribunal asked him to wait until it finished hearing the prosecution’s submission.

Salauddin began shouting, “Why are you not listening to my lawyer?”

The court again said it would listen to Hena afterwards but Salauddin kept on arguing. He even told the tribunal chief, “You have appointed your junior as my counsel. I did not appoint him!”

The arguments kept going back and forth and eventually the tribunal chief reminded Salauddin and his counsel that they were standing before a tribunal and they should be careful about their manners. He then issued a warning against Salauddin, saying that his behaviour inside the courtroom was “unwarranted and cannot be tolerated”.

The tribunal chairman said Ratko Mladiæ, the Serbian military general who faced war crimes charges at The Hague, was ejected from the court because of his improper behaviour, and his trial was conducted in his absence.

The justice said the tribunal would initiate legal proceedings against Salauddin if he continued to shout.

“What action, my lord?” was the reply from the MP from Chittagong. “I’m already in jail.”

Salauddin then apologised to the tribunal.

The hearing on the charge framing went on for so long yesterday that the tribunal’s next business of the day, recording the deposition of the 13th prosecution witness in the Sayedee trial, could not go ahead.

Witness Gouranga Saha was scheduled have his deposition recorded in the case against Jamaat-e-Islami leader Delawar Hossain Sayedee filed in connection with crimes against humanity during the Liberation War.

The tribunal is scheduled to record the deposition today.

Salauddin Quader Chowdhury is one of two BNP leaders facing charges of crimes against humanity at the tribunal.

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