The defence counsel for war crimes accused SM Qaiser, a former state minister during HM Ershad’s military rule, on Sunday outright dismissed the prosecution allegation of establishing an outfit after the name of the accused in aid of the Pakistan occupation army during the Liberation War in 1971.
“There was no existence of ‘Qaiser Bahini’ in Habiganj ‘that used to accompany’ the Pakistan occupation forces in committing the crimes against humanity during the Liberation War in 1971,” advocate SM Shahjahan, told the International Crimes Tribunal-2 during summing-up arguments on his case for the second day.
In support of his claim, the defence counsel said the people struggling for liberating the country had full control over Madhabpur in Habiganj until the Pakistan occupation army invaded the area April 27-28 in 1971.
“So, the question of ‘Qaiser Bahini’ functioning in April 1971 does not arise,” he said, adding that the prosecution also mentioned different dates over the formation of the outfit at the Noapara village, the ancestral home of the accused.
It was never possible to form ‘Qaiser Bahini’ at that time considering the hostile situation for the accused, argued defence counsel SM Shahjahan.
He also questioned the credibility of the evidence of prosecution witness Tajul Islam (PW-3) against accused Qaiser, as he had acted as an accomplice being a member of Qaiser Bahini, during the Liberation War.
The defence counsel further contended that considering the ground reality the evidence of PW Tajul becomes shaky and it does not carry any value for assessment, terming it unworthy as the PW disclosed the matter before the tribunal for the first time.
He also claimed that the documents submitted by the prosecution in support of the charges made against Qaiser do not show any complicity of the accused in perpetrating crimes against humanity in collaboration with the Pakistan army.
During his summing-up arguments on the case, the three member tribunal, headed by Justice Obaidul Hassan, interrupted the defence counsel time and again to make argument on the points strictly confining to the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act and its rules of procedure.
The tribunal also hinted the defence counsel to conclude his case summing- up arguments by Tuesday. The hearing will resume on Monday.
On February 2 this year, the tribunal indicted Syed Mohammad Qaiser for his involvement in crimes against humanity, including genocide in 1971 Liberation War.
On August 5, 2013, responding to a petition, the tribunal granted Qaiser bail, subject to conditions, on medical and humanitarian grounds.
Septuagenarian Qaiser, a turncoat politician, was arrested on May 21 last year in connection with the war crimes case.
On November 14, 2013, after perusing the formal charge with 16 counts of offences submitted by the prosecution and the relevant documents, the tribunal took cognizance of the formal charge as it found prima facie case against the accused under sections 3(2) and 4(1) (2) of the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act 1973.
According to the investigation agency, after the independence of Bangladesh, Qaiser, a former Pakistan Convention Muslim League activist, entered politics by joining BNP and subsequently became the president of Habiganj BNP.
Later, he quit BNP to join Ershad’s Jatiya Party and became state minister for agriculture in 1989. According to information, he lately joined the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) of Col (retd) Oli Ahmad.
Qaiser, as a local Peace Committee leader during the Liberation War, had formed a vigilante group ‘Qaiser Force’ after his name comprising 500-700 of his trusted men in Habiganj and committed crimes against humanity, including genocide, in collaboration with the Pakistani occupation army.
At the latter part of the Liberation War, he had fled to London and returned home after the August 1975 political changeover.