War crimes accused ATM Azharul Islam, president of Islami Chhatra Sangha of Rangpur town in 1971, played an active role in organising Al-Badr, a notorious auxiliary force of the Pakistan army, the prosecution said yesterday.
Prosecutor Zead Al Malum said at least two documents had already been submitted to the International Crimes Tribunal-1 to prove the claim against Jamaat-e-Islami Assistant Secretary General Azharul, who was in the dock at the time.
Referring to a report of Jamaat mouthpiece Daily Sangram, he tried to establish that Azharul had opposed the country's Liberation War.
The report headlined “Rangpur-e dushkritikarider haate Mesbahuddiner shahadat [Mesbahuddin killed by miscreants in Rangpur]” was published on September 13, 1971. Meshbahuddin had been a member of Islami Chhatra Sangha, the then student wing of Jamaat.
As per the report, the then Chhatra Sangha's Rangpur district president Azam Ali and city unit president Azharul Islam in a statement deeply mourned the death of Mesbahuddin. It also says "Indian agents" killed him.
During the Liberation War in 1971, the anti-liberation elements described freedom seekers as "miscreants" and "Indian agents".
Azam and Azharul in the statement also said "miscreants" would not be able to foil the victory of the “Islamic movement” by killing one or two Mujahids (fighters) like "martyr Mesbahuddin", according to the report.
"Indian agents" would not attain their "ulterior motive" behind carrying out atrocities. The "miscreants" became active since they had been offered amnesty by the then president, the statement said, requesting Pakistan president Yahya Khan to show no mercy to the "miscreants".
In September 1971, Yahya declared amnesty to “miscreants” (freedom fighters) and asked them to surrender.
The prosecution has so far produced 19 witnesses, including the investigation officer, and submitted 27 documents to prove six charges brought against Azharul for his alleged involvement in crimes against humanity committed during the war.
The court adjourned the proceedings of the case against Azharul until today. The prosecution will now place arguments on separate charges.
Meanwhile, the tribunal adjourned until October 26 the hearing of a contempt rule issued against four people, including the incumbent editor of Daily Sangram, after the defence sought time.
Meanwhile, the International Crimes Tribunal-2 permitted investigators to quiz detained war crimes suspect Forkan Mallik at a “safe home” at Dhanmondi in the capital.
The three-member tribunal led by Justice Obaidul Hassan passed the order after the prosecution submitted a petition seeking to glean information from the accused about his alleged involvement in crimes committed in Patuakhali during the Liberation War.
The court also directed the prosecution to submit an investigation report or a progress report of the investigation into the allegations brought against the alleged Razakar commander of Mirzaganj upazila of Patuakhali.
On June 25, detectives arrested Forkan in Barisal city following an arrest warrant by a Patuakhali court in a criminal case. One Abdul Hamid of Forkan's village Shoulabunia of Mirzaganj filed the case in 2009.
In the case, the complainant said Forkan had assisted Pakistan armymen to kill president of Mirzaganj Awami League Abdul Qader Joarder and Debendranath and his wife during the war in 1971.
The investigation agency of the war crimes tribunal has begun looking into the allegations of war crimes against Forkan on receiving the case documents from the Patuakhali court.
In another case against Syed Mohammad Qaisar, state minister of Ershad regime, the tribunal heard the closing arguments of defence counsels for the seventh day yesterday.
Qaisar, the alleged founder of anti-liberation force Qaisar Bahini, faces 16 charges of war crimes, including genocide, committed in Brahmanbaria and Habiganj during the Liberation War.
He has been denying the allegations.