2 witnesses allowed to testify in camera
The International Crimes Tribunal-2 yesterday decided to allow two female witnesses to give their testimonies on July 17 against Jamaat leader Abdul Quader Mollah behind closed doors to protect the "identity and privacy" of the witnesses.
The tribunal's decision came following a prosecution petition stating that the two female witnesses were from families of victims who “wanted to give their testimony not in public, but in camera”.
Following a short hearing on the petition, the three-member tribunal headed by its Chairman Justice ATM Fazle Kabir, with members Justice Obaidul Hassan and Judge Md Shahinur Islam, fixed July 17 for recording the testimony of the two female witnesses in camera.
The tribunal said three lawyers from the prosecution and the defence each would be allowed in the courtroom during recording of the testimonies.
Accused Quader Mollah could also be produced before the tribunal but no other individuals or the press would be allowed in, the tribunal said.
The tribunal conducts proceedings in an open court where journalists and other observers could be present, but in camera, none except the judges, selected lawyers, accused and the court officials would be in the courtroom.
In its order, the tribunal said, the witnesses belong to respectable Muslim families who intended to disclose incidents of sexual violence and murder committed during the Liberation War.
The defence did not oppose the petition.
“We want to protect the dignity and privacy of the victim and the witnesses, thus the prayer is allowed…” said the tribunal.
The tribunal also said the lawyers, who would be allowed in the courtroom, would have to agree to a non-disclosure agreement about the witnesses' identities and the content of the testimonies.
This would be the first time a witness would give testimony behind closed doors before the tribunals.
Meanwhile, the defence yesterday failed to submit documents and their defence witness list before the tribunal. It sought more time from the tribunal.
On May 28, the tribunal indicted Quader Mollah on six charges of crimes against humanity and directed the defence to place their documents along with their witness list on June 20.
But the tribunal deferred the date to July 3 following a time petition of defence on June 20 and on July 3 it once again deferred the date to yesterday following another time petition of the defence.
Farid Uddin Khan, a defence counsel, told the tribunal yesterday that they had submitted some documents and they needed four weeks' time to come up with the rest and the witness list.
Justice Kabir said, “You [defence] would not get time anymore…you did not comply with the order…two of prosecution witnesses have already given their testimony. How many days we will give you.”
Farid Uddin then sought a week's time and the tribunal directed him to submit the documents within July 15.
Meanwhile, the tribunal completed recording of the cross-examination of Syed Shahidul Haque Mama, a freedom fighter and the second prosecution witness in the war-crimes case against Quader Mollah.
During the 70-minute cross-examination, Ekramul Huqe, a counsel of the Jamaat Assistant Secretary General Quader Mollah, asked around 25 questions.
Ekramul claimed that the case was filed against Quader Mollah as he was a member of the opposition to Awami League, the ruling party of the country.
Shahidul rejected the defence's claim and said, “It is not true.”
“What you [witness] have said about Abdul Quader Mollah, is not correct,” Ekramul said.
Shahidul said, “It is not true.”
In his testimony on July 10, Shahidul said Quader Mollah and his accomplices had killed pro-liberation poet Meherun Nesa, her mother, and two brothers at their Mirpur home in Dhaka and Pallab, a Mirpur Bangla College student, during the Liberation War.