The defence counsel for war crimes accused Syed Mohammad Qaiser on Sunday apparently made a futile exercise to discredit the evidence of valiant freedom fighter Mohammad Ali Pathan (PW-4), travelling beyond the periphery of the war crimes incidents allegedly perpetrated by the accused and his cohorts in collaboration with Pakistan occupation army.
While facing the defence cross-examination, PW Mohammad Ali Pathan told the International Crimes Tribunal-2 that he had know knowledge whether Faisal and Shahjahan, the siblings of the accused, were members of the All-Party Action Committee at Madhabpur in Habiganj during the Liberation War.
“I had also no idea whether Faisal and Shahjahan helped supply food regularly for the freedom fighters from day one of the Liberation War,” he said.
Denying defence suggestions, the PW-4 said with confidence that on April 27 in 1971, not the following day (April 28), the Pakistan occupation army and its auxiliary forces led by the accused invaded Madhabpur and carried out the atrocities in and around the area.
“It’s not true that I made tutored evidence before the tribunal incriminating accused Qaiser in the case of war crimes,” he said.
After closing the cross-examination of PW-4, designated prosecutor Rana Dasgupta submitted a plea before the three-member tribunal, headed by Justice Obaidul Hassan, to allow its next female witness (PW-5) to make her evidence in camera as a Liberation War victim.
Allowing the prosecution plea, the tribunal fixed April 9 for her deposition followed by cross-examination in camera, asking both the sides to maintain secrecy of the camera trial session, including the name of the PW-5.
On February 2, dismissing his discharge plea, the tribunal indicted Syed Mohammad Qaiser, a former junior minister during Gen (retd) Ershad’s rule, for his involvement in crimes against humanity, including genocide, in 1971 Liberation War.
On August 5 last year, responding to a petition, the tribunal granted bail to Qaiser, 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 last year, after perusing the formal charge with 18 count 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. Latest information says that he joined the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) of Col (retd) Oli Ahmed.
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 fled to London and returned to the country after the August 1975 political changeover.
Qaiser Trial Cross-exam of PW-4 concludes