Prosecution returns 'faulty' probe report
For the first time ever, the international crimes tribunals chief prosecutor's office has sent a report on two war crimes suspects back to the investigation agency, citing errors.
Chief Prosecutor Ghulam Arieff Tipoo yesterday returned the report with other documents and recommended further investigations of alleged Razakars of Kishoreganj Nasir Uddin Ahmed and his brother Shamsuddin Ahmed, said a prosecutor and an investigator.
Nasir, 62, a former army officer, and Shamsuddin, 60, a lawyer of Kishoreganj, are the sons of late Razzaque Munshi of Karimganj Madhyapara under Karimganj Police Station.
The agency, designated to probe war crimes, finalised its report with five war crimes charges including killings and torture against the duo and submitted its report and other documents to the chief prosecutor's office on November 26. The prosecution scrutinised the documents to press formal charges against them.
Following a warrant of arrest issued by the International Crimes Tribunal-1, Shamsuddin was arrested on November 27, while Nasir is at large, according to the prosecution.
Sheikh Mosfeq Kabir, conducting prosecutor of the case, told The Daily Star yesterday that he had sought opinion from the chief prosecutor after finding “some lackings and errors” in the report and the chief prosecutor sent back the documents for further investigation.
Mosfeq said the step had been taken as per section-19 of the rules of procedure of the international crimes tribunals. The section says: “If any investigation report does not disclose a prima facie case against an accused, the chief prosecutor may initiate further investigation or stop the said investigation.”
The investigation report says Nasir is 62 now but mentions February 9, 1954 as his date of birth, meaning his age is 60 years and nine months, according to a letter sent to the chief prosecutor.
As per the report, Shamsuddin was 17 in 1971, but the agency did not produce any evidence to support that. Besides, as per his National Identity card, his date of birth is December 1, 1958, the letter written by the conducting prosecutor read.
The agency, while briefing the media about the case on November 25, said the accused had gone into hiding after independence and later pursued their studies changing name and age.
The probe report mentions Nasir as an army officer and Shamsuddin as a lawyer without giving any details about their professional life, the insiders added.
The incidents relating to the charges took place between August 23 and November 11 of 1971, but the agency made no mention of the suspects' whereabouts between March 26 and August 22, 1971, they said.
The insiders said the conducting prosecutor wrote to the chief prosecutor saying that if they went ahead with “errors and lacking”, their case would be affected.
Sanaul Huq, a senior member of the agency, told The Daily Star that the law permitted the prosecution to ask for further investigation if they were not happy with the investigation.
“We will conduct further investigation in areas we feel necessary. We will clarify the rest of the points [mentioned by the prosecution],” he said.
He, however, said they did not agree with the prosecution's observations about the age of the suspects.
He alleged that the age the suspects had mentioned in the documents was not real. Besides, documents relating to their age were contradictory, he said, adding, “That is why we have submitted all documents to the prosecution as evidence to their lies.”
Citing an example, he said if Shamsuddin's date of birth [December 1, 1958] was true, the difference between his and his immediate younger brother's age would be around two months.
Under the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act, 1973, age was not a bar to trying anyone for the crimes they committed during the Liberation War in 1971, Sanaul Huq observed.