The prosecution on Wednesday began placing war crimes charges against former Muslim League leader Abdul Alim at the International Crimes Tribunal-2 accusing him of persecution and deportation of two counts each.
Also a former BNP MP and a cabinet member under the party’s founder Gen Ziaur Rahman, Alim has 26 more charges against him that the prosecution has yet to place.
He was introduced as a local Muslim League leader who had actively taken part against the nation’s freedom struggle. Besides his position of Bogra vice-chairman of the infamous Peace Committee, Alim also headed the Joypurhat Peace Committee and subsequently the area’s Razakar Unit during the War of Independence.
The Peace Committees were formed as a platform of anti-liberation forces that would collaborate with the Pakistani Army with intelligence and logistics.
The Razakars were an auxiliary force under the Pakistan army mobilised through the local Peace Committee and notorious for the atrocities they conducted across the county to thwart liberation efforts.
The second war crimes tribunal also extended the former rail minister’s bail until Apr 29 when his defence will file a new petition seeking the bail’s extension.
The second tribunal was set up on Mar 23 this year to expedite trial of crimes against humanity during the war in 1971.
As had been fixed by the first tribunal, the second tribunal sat to hear Alim’s formal charges although the defence had predictably filed for an adjournment.
Muhammad Tarikul Islam appeared in Alim’s defence as prosecutor Rana Dasgupta began reading out the formal charges.
The second tribunal’s chairman, Justice A T M Fazle Kabir, in light of his experience as a member of the first tribunal directed the prosecutor to read from almost halfway through the formal charge. He said reading out the entire document would be a lengthy process.
“Start reading from page 33, para 9.” The tribunal chair had been flipping through the pages as the prosecutor had begun presenting the formal charge.
Dasgupta understood, he said noting that the tribunal chair perhaps well knew that the historical context preceding the specific allegations would be more or less the same.
The tribunal chief merely repeated his direction. The prosecutor complied after briefly reading out Alim’s background from the formal charge.
The prosecution’s submission also featured a marked difference from the precedence set at the first tribunal with the prosecutor providing details of witness statement and documentary evidence as each charge was being read out.
Of the 28 charges, the prosecution could only get through two, accusing Alim of persecution and deportation.
The prosecutor said he would supply the tribunal with an index of relevant testimony and other evidence for each one of those charges.
The second tribunal adjourned the proceedings 10:30am until Wednesday rejecting a defence prayer to keep the hearing on hold until Sunday when Alim’s senior counsel, most likely Ahsanul Haq, a close acquaintance of prosecutor Dasgupta, is expected to be present.