Tribunal sees debate on news reports as evidence
The International Crimes Tribunal, the defence and the prosecution yesterday were locked in a debate for about two hours on how to accept newspaper reports as evidence for the trial of crimes against humanity committed during 1971.
The debate took place during the testimony of the 17th prosecution witness in the case against Jamaat-e-Islami leader Delawar Hossain Sayedee regarding his alleged crimes against humanity during the Liberation War.
Failing to reach any conclusion on the issue, the three-judge tribunal adjourned the proceedings until Sunday morning, saying that it will make a decision after examining the rules of procedure of the International Crimes Tribunal Act.
“We [judges] will sit with the rules of procedure. If we feel that an amendment of the rules of procedure is needed, we will go for it. But everything depends on the tribunal,” Justice Md Nizamul Huq, chairman of the tribunal, said.
When the tribunal judges sat after lunch around 2:10pm, witness Rabiul Anam Khan, cataloguer of Press Institute of Bangladesh (PIB), told the court he signed the seizer list made by Helal Uddin, investigation officer of the case.
Helal had collected from the archive of PIB some old issues of the dailies Janakantha and Bhorer Kagoj containing reports on the role of Sayedee during the Liberation War.
The prosecution submitted before the tribunal an issue of Janakantha published on March 5, 2001, containing a report headlined “Ekatturer Razakar Deillah Ekhon Moulana Sayedee” and another report headlined “Razakarer Ekattarnama-7” of Bhorer Kagaj published on November 4, 2007.
At one stage, defence counsel Mizanul Islam told the tribunal the reporters themselves have to appear before the court as per the rules of procedure. Once the document is marked as exhibit, its contents will be admissible, he said.
PIB cataloguer Rabiul Anam Khan is not the author of the report published in the dailies, the counsel argued, appealing for amendment of the rules of procedure.
The tribunal said it would make a decision whether it would consider the reports.
Prosecutor Syed Haider Ali said the tribunal can accept any books, reports and photographs published in newspapers, magazines, films and tape recording as evidence for the trial.
Yesterday morning, the prosecution pleaded for time until 2:00pm as they could not produce the scheduled witness due to some problems.
Prosecutor Zead Al Malum told the tribunal the witnesses were scheduled to come to Dhaka on Wednesday but they arrived yesterday morning.
“Why did the witnesses arrive in the morning?” asked the tribunal.
“The witnesses are on the way…witnesses are late…it has become a regular phenomenon for the prosecution side,” said the tribunal.
Chief of defence counsels Abdur Razzaq told the tribunal the prosecution provided a list of 10-prosecution witnesses to them but seven of their names were not on the final list, provided by the prosecution earlier.
The prosecution opposed the defence counsels' claim saying their names were on the two volumes of witness testimony that the prosecution submitted to the court.