The prosecution at the International Crimes Tribunal charged Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed with the murders of Rumi, son of writer Jahanara Imam, and journalist Shahid Sirajuddin Hossain, during the Liberation War.
Rumi, among at least four others, was killed in captivity after the Jamaat-e-Islami leader told Pakistani army officials that they needed to be killed before a general amnesty was declared, said prosecutor Rana Dasgupta, reading out the formal charges against Mojaheed yesterday.
In another incident, Shahid Sirajuddin Hossain, executive editor of the daily Ittefaq in 1971, was abducted by a group of people. The prosecutor said the abduction was “controlled” and “directed” by the Jamaat leader.
The veteran pro-liberation journalist was never to be seen again. His body was never found, he added.
The prosecution yesterday finished reading out the 109-page formal charges against Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed, secretary general of Jamaat-e-Islami. It also finished its arguments supporting the charges brought against him.
The tribunal, led by its Chairman Justice Md Nizamul Huq, adjourned the hearing until March 22. Mojaheed’s defence counsels were supposed to begin their arguments regarding the charges on that day.
After hearing the defence’s arguments, the tribunal would decide whether it would frame charges against Mojaheed.
The Secretary General of Jamaat-e-Islami was produced before the court yesterday. He is facing 32 charges of crimes against humanity during the Liberation War.
Five other Jamaat and two BNP leaders are also facing war crimes charges at the tribunal.
Reading out the charges against Mojaheed, prosecutor Rana Dasgupta said Altaf Mahmud, a renowned music composer, Rumi, Azad, Bodiul Alam Bodi, Jewel and Jahiruddin Ahmed Jalal were confined to the army camp in Dhaka’s Nakhalpara during the war.
“On August 30, 1971, Mojaheed and Motiur Rahman Nizami visited that camp,” said Rana. Motiur Rahman Nizami, ameer of Jamaat-e Islami, is also facing war crimes charges at the tribunal.
“They saw the prisoners and badmouthed them. They told the Pakistani army officers that the prisoners must be killed before the president announced a general amnesty.”
Five of them were killed. Jahiruddin Ahmed Jalal was the only survivor who managed to escape with injuries, the prosecutor added.
On December 10, 1971, a group of seven to eight people carrying rifles went to the Chamelibagh house in the capital of Sirajuddin Hossain. Sirajuddin was taken away on a minibus and never to be seen again.
“The accused [Mojaheed] controlled and directed the abduction,” said Rana Dasgupta. Sirajuddin Hossain had written an article describing the atrocities committed by Pakistani soldiers. This made him a target of Jamaat, the prosecutor added.
According to the prosecutor, Mojaheed was also directly involved with the mass murder of 50 to 60 people in the Hindu dominated villages of Baidyadangi, Majhidangi and Baladangi in Faridpur.
He along with eight to 10 Pakistani soldiers surrounded the villages and set over 300 houses ablaze, according to the charges.
Other charges brought against the Jamaat leader include delivering anti-liberation statements in different programmes and newspapers and frequently visiting Pakistani army and Razakar camps, including the Physical Training Institute camp in Mohammadpur in the capital.
Mojaheed and former Jamaat-e-Islami ameer Ghulam Azam allegedly visited the camp frequently to plan and conspire against pro-liberation forces. The killings of intellectuals and other atrocities were committed from that camp, the prosecutor said.
NO NAMES OF INTELLECTUALS
At one point during yesterday’s proceedings, the tribunal asked the prosecution why the charges do not mention names of any intellectuals who were killed during the Liberation War in 1971 even though the killings were mentioned in a general context.
“You mentioned the killings of intellectuals and yet you did not mention anyone’s name?” said Justice ATM Fazle Kabir, a judge of the tribunal.
Rana said, “The witnesses would tell the names in their statements in due course of time.”
The matter, however, came up once again just before the tribunal was about to end the proceedings at 3:38pm. “It is really a touchy matter, and yet there are no names,” said Justice Fazle Kabir.
Prosecutor Rana replied that a separate investigation is being conducted to identify members of the “killing squad” who took part in the murders. The prosecutor later read out the name of a few intellectuals who were killed during the war.
Prosecutor Syed Haider Ali yesterday through an application to the court asked for prosecution witnesses’ statements to the investigation agency to be considered as their depositions to the court.
Haider yesterday explained the prosecution’s future course of action regarding witness testimonies against Jamaat leader Delwar Hossain Sayedee, as directed by the tribunal on Sunday.
Haider later told the media that the prosecution explained the situation with prosecution witnesses against Sayedee.
He said they mentioned that Jamaat-e-Islami men have threatened some witnesses. As a result, the witnesses fled their villages in Pirojpur.
Another witness, who is 78 years old, is seriously ill and cannot travel at all, said the prosecution, adding that the prosecution also heard that some other witnesses have fled to India.
So, the prosecution has appealed to the tribunal to accept the witness statements from the investigation report as their deposition, he added.
Mizanul Islam, a defence counsel of Sayedee, said the application was “dangerous” and the defence needs some time to prepare for placing arguments on it.
The tribunal fixed March 25 for hearing the arguments.