The eldest son of Maulana AKM Yusuf, nayeb-e-ameer of Jamaat-e-Islami, on Wednesday accused the government of incriminating his father for war crimes out of political vengeance after four decades of independence.
“It’s true that during the Liberation War my father was a diehard supporter of undivided Pakistan, but he was not involved in any sort of criminal activities like the prescribed crimes against humanity,” said AKM Mahbubur Rahman while testifying in favor of his father as defence witness before the International Crimes Tribuinal-2.
Recalling his father’s connivance with the Pakistan junta during the 1971 Liberation War, Mahbub told the tribunal that his father AKM Yusuf, after getting appointment in the Malik Cabinet, had shifted his whole family to Dhaka from Khulna in mid-September. “Then we started to live at Minto Road residence.”
During the deposition, he told the court that they are three brothers and five sisters. “Except my father none us are involved in politics,” said Mahbub.
With his accused father in the dock, the lone DW said that following the resignation of the Malik Cabinet on December 14, 1971, his father along with his entire family sought refuge in then Hotel Intercontinental (now Hotel Ruposhi Bangla) as it was declared neutral zone by the International Red Cross.
He further said: “Five-six days after Bangladesh was liberated from the Pakistan occupation forces, the Red Cross authorities had handed us to the Indian army and then they had taken us to Dhaka Cantonment for shelter.”
“We had been in Dhaka Cantonment for at best one and half-months,” recalled Mahbub, saying that at one stage, the detained ministers of Malik Cabinet were sent to jail after the Indian army had handed them over to Bangladesh government.
Mahbub admitted before the tribunal that his father was tried under the Collaborators Act 1972 and the special tribunal sentenced him to life term imprisonment. But he was released from jail before December 16, 1973, following a conditional general amnesty declared by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, he said, adding that the amnesty was not granted to those 1971 collaborators convicted or accused of murder, rape, arson and loot.
The DW, however, said, after the general amnesty, the High Court had acquitted my father of the charges following appeal against the trial court conviction and sentence.
DW Mahbub, while a boy of 11 years in 1971, recalled that his father did not visit any area of Bagerhat during the Liberation War. “As a member of Malik Cabinet, my father used to move with protocol.”
The deposition over, the DW was cross-examined by the prosecutor. Replying to a prosecution question, Mahbub said that his father had contested in the by-election from Khulna-2 constituency in 1971 general election. “But I can’t recall whether my father had won the by-election.”
Asked whether he gave false evidence defending his father before the tribunal knowing everything about his criminal track records during the Liberation War, Mahbub replied in the negative.
Meanwhile, the three-member tribunal, headed by Justice Obaidul Hassan, steps into second phase of the trial with summing up arguments of the case by both the prosecution and the defence counsel as the cross-examination of the DW was closed.
The tribunal set February 12 for prosecution summing-up arguments of the case.
On August 1 last year, the tribunal indicted Yusuf, senior nayeb-e-ameer of Jamaat-e-Islami, for his involvement in crimes against humanity during the 1971 Liberation War.
The tribunal considered 13 out of 15 charges of crimes against humanity during the 1971 Liberation War as proposed by the prosecution on May 8 last year which fall under sections 3(2), 4 (1) and 4 (2) of the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act 1973.
Founder of the notorious Razakar outfit during the 1971 Liberation War, Yusuf, now 88, also the second man in the hierarchy of Jamaat leadership, faces charges, including genocide, killing, loot, arson, deportation of people and religious conversion.
According to the prosecution, Jamaat leader Yusuf, a member of the infamous Malik cabinet in occupied Bangladesh, a rubberstamp government backed by the Pakistan junta, had formed for the first time in Khulna in 1971 the vigilante group Razakar with the members of Jamaat-e-Islami that acted as an auxiliary force of the Pakistan occupation army to actively thwart the Bangladesh liberation forces.
Yusuf had also acted as the chairman of the Peace Committee (Collaborator) in Bagerhat, Satkhira and Khulna districts during the Liberation War.