Defence completes cross-examinations
The trial of war crimes accused AKM Yusuf entered the last stage as the defence completed cross-examination of the last prosecution witness at the International Crimes Tribunal-2 yesterday.
The three-member tribunal headed by Justice Obaidul Hassan also fixed February 4, 5 and 6 for testimony of three defence witnesses in the case.
Earlier, 27 prosecution witnesses including the investigation officer of the case testified against Yusuf, historically known as the founder of infamous Razakar force.
Soon after fixing the date, the tribunal asked the accused to change position from the accused dock to the witness box situated near the judges' seat.
The tribunal chairman asked Yusuf how many members were included in Malek cabinet formed during the Liberation War in 1971.
"[I] Cannot remember," said the accused in a feeble voice. Yusuf, who was the then revenue minister, is the only surviving member of that cabinet.
"We are asking you this question just for the sake of knowledge, as you are the lone survivor of that cabinet," said Justice Obaidul Hassan.
The tribunal chairman also asked Yusuf why all the members of that cabinet resigned on December 14, 1971, just two days before the victory of Bangladesh.
Yusuf said they had stepped down due to the country's situation and taken shelter at the Hotel Intercontinental [now Hotel Ruposhi Bangla].
The tribunal also enquired about Yusuf's health. The accused said his condition was better than earlier.
Defence counsel Mizanul Islam while cross-examining investigation officer (IO) Helal Uddin yesterday made a suggestion that he had used government machinery to produce false witnesses against his client.
Helal denied the allegation. The defence counsel said Yusuf was not in Bagerhat at the time of the crimes, but the IO rejected the claim.
Mizanul also said his client was not accused in any cases filed in Bagerhat after the war, which the IO hid in his report. The IO said it was not true.
The defence counsel asked the investigator if he knew Yusuf was released on general amnesty in 1973 after being convicted in a sedition case.
"I do not know," Helal said in reply.
Yusuf is facing 13 charges for his alleged involvement in the crimes against humanity committed during the war.
The tribunal has meanwhile deferred the date for giving its decision about charge framing against war crimes suspect and former state minister Syed Mohammad Qaisar to February 2. The tribunal had earlier fixed yesterday for giving a decision to that end.