1971 KILLING OF INTELLECTUALS
Verdict in Ashraf, Mueen case any dayTapos Kanti Das
The war crimes trial of absconding Al-Badr bosses Md Ashrafuzzaman Khan alias Nayeb Ali and Chowdhury Mueenuddin, ended on Monday and the judges said the verdict would be delivered at a later date.
Their trial in absentia began on July 15.
Having heard both sides, the presiding judge of the International Crimes Tribunal-2, Justice Obaidul Hassan said the verdict would be delivered later.
‘We are not fixing a specific date now,’ he said in a
full court hearing attended by Justice Md Mozibur Rahman Miah and Justice Md Shahinur Islam.
Judgement CAV, he said.
Judgement CAV, or Curia advisari vult, is a Latin legal term meaning ‘the court wishes to deliver the verdict at a later date.’
Indicted on June 24, the duo was tried on 11 crimes against humanity charges they allegedly committed by kidnapping and killing 18 intellectuals in Dhaka towards the fag end of the Liberation War.
The 18 intellectuals they killed included nine Dhaka University teachers, six journalists and three physicians.
Mueen and Ashraf were tried on the charges of instructing, directing, leading and accompanying armed Al-Badr men to kidnap the intellectuals at gun-point from their homes and killing them btween December 11 and December 15, 1971.
Facing imminent defeat, Pakistan occupation army’s local collaborators, the infamous Al-Badr Bahini, picked up and killed leading Bangali intellectuals to cripple the new nation at birth.
Mueen is a native of Chanpur, a village under Daganbhuian in Feni destrict.
Ashraf comes from Chhotabhatara, a village in Moksudpur police station of Gopalganj district.
In 1971, they were leaders of Jamaat’s erstwhile student wing, Islami Chattra Sangha, according to the prosecution.
In 1971, Mueen, a student of Bangla department of Dhaka University, worked as a Staff Reporter of the then Bangla daily Purbadesh.
Ashraf took his BA (Honours) in Islamic Studies from DU in 1970.
According to the prosecution, Mueen as the Al-Badr Bahini’s operation in-charge played a key role in eliminating Bangali intellectuals.
As Al-Badr Bahini’s chief executioner, Ashraf had an active role in eliminating the intellectuals.
Mueen lives in London and Ashraf in the US.
At the trial stage 25 prosecution witnesses testified against the duo.
None testified for Mueen and Ashraf, the ninth and 10th war crimes accused whose trial has ended on the free soil of Bangladesh.
Wrapping her closing arguments, Mueen’s state defence lawyer Salma Hai Tuni submitted that her client was acquitted in a lone case filed in 1997 for killing Dhaka University Professor Gias Uddin.
She also submitted no other case was filed against her client since 1971.
She said that there was no scope to try her client twice on the same charge.
It’s a case of double jeopardy, she submitted.
In his closing arguments, Ashraf’s state defence lawyer Md Abdus Shukur Khan said that the real war criminals, 195 Pakistani army men, were let off the hook under a tri-partite agreement between Bangladesh, India and Pakistan in 1974.
He said that his client was not ‘the Ashraf’ who had killed the intellectuals.’
At this point, the tribunal wanted to know from him how could his client be different from killer Ashraf, brother of Rawshon Ali Khan, identified by prosecution witnesses and documents.
Shukur also submitted that the Pakistan occupation army and not his client had killed the intellectuals.
Both the state defence lawyers sought acquittal of their clients saying they were not involved with the Al-Badr Bahini and, therefore, they did not commit the crimes, they are accused of.
In his rebuttal, prosecutor Sahidur Rahman refuted the defence argument and said it was not a case of double jeopardy as Mueen was not sued in 1997 for the same offence.
He submitted that the prosecution proved all the charges against the duo beyond any reasonable shadow of doubt.
He demanded highest punishment for them prescribed in the ICT Act of 1973.
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