A prosecution witness yesterday narrated how Pakistani army men with the help of war crimes accused ATM Azharul Islam raped his six-month pregnant wife in August 1971.
The witness, who was then in India for training to become a freedom fighter, heard about the atrocities from his wife later.
The three-member International Crimes Tribunal-1 chaired by Justice M Enayetur Rahim with members Justice Jahangir Hossain Selim and Justice Anwarul Haque recorded the hour-and-a-half-long testimony of the second prosecution witness.
The witness said Pakistani army personnel along with Razakar and Al-Badr men went to their village Kacna Takeyapara of Rangpur on 7 or 8 of the Bangla month Bhadra and fired shots in the air.
“Villagers ran to and fro. The attackers came to our house and beat up my father to glean information about me,” said the witness quoting his wife.
The witness said his wife took cover at a neighbour's house but three Pakistani army men and a Bangalee abettor found her.
“My wife begged for mercy. At one stage they raped her,” he said.
The witness said his wife had identified the Bangalee as ATM Azhar when the Pakistani army personnel ordered the war crimes accused to bring his wife outside the house.
The Pakistani army and their accomplices also looted the witness's house.
The witness said his wife was taken to Rangpur Town Hall where she found other women who were raped and tortured there.
The septuagenarian witness said from a window of the Town Hall her wife saw Azhar accompanying Pakistani army personnel in operations.
After 18 days of detention, the Pakistani army freed his wife as she was bleeding profusely.
The witness said his brother-in-law took his wife and father to a doctor for treatment. However, his father succumbed to the injuries a few days later while his wife lost the baby.
The witness said had Azhar not brought the Pakistani army to his house, such incident would not have had happened. He sought punishment of Azhar, who was in the dock yesterday.
Azhar is facing six charges of murder, genocide and crimes against humanity committed during the Liberation War.
Meanwhile, the Tribunal-1 postponed the hearing on the contempt petition filed against BNP chairperson's adviser Khandaker Mahbub Hossain to April 10.
On October 1, 2013, the tribunal awarded death penalty to BNP lawmaker Salauddin Quader Chowdhury for committing crimes against humanity and genocide during the Liberation War in 1971. Following the verdict delivery, Mahbub said if voted to power, his party would try those involved in the trial.
MIR QUASEM'S CASE
A prosecution witness yesterday testified before the International Crimes Tribunal-2 that Al-Badr men picked up his brother-in-law from his house and tortured him at an Al-Badr camp housed at Dalim Hotel in Chittagong during the Liberation War.
“Mir Quasem Ali was the commander of Al-Badr force,” said Faiz Ahmed Siddiqui, the 14th prosecution witness in Quasem's case.
Earlier on the day, Mohammad Hasan, the 13th prosecution witness in the case, said masked men picked up three people from his and his uncle's house and took them to Dalim Hotel, where Al-Badr men tortured them for several days.
Quasem, a member of Jamaat central executive council, is facing 14 charges for his alleged involvement in crimes against humanity committed in Chittagong in 1971.
Faiz, a former student leader in Chittagong, said his brother-in-law Saifuddin Khan got release after December 16, when Bangladesh achieved victory in the war, and Saifuddin informed him about their ordeal in the Al-Badr camp.
“My brother-in-law also told me that many captives were tortured to death and their bodies were dumped into the Karnaphuli river during his detention in Dalim Hotel,” said Faiz.
Quasem's counsel Mizanul completed cross-examining Faiz and Hasan before the three-member tribunal led by Justice Obaidul Hassan with members Justice Md Mozibur Rahman Miah and Justice Md Shahinur Islam adjourned the case proceeding to resume today.