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Defence claims Azharul implicated falsely

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Court Correspondent
A defence counsel for ATM Azharul Islam on Monday claimed that his client as an alleged Al Badr commander had been falsely implicated in the charge of 1971 crimes against humanity establishing a makeshift torture centre at Rangpur Town Hall in collaboration with the Pakistan occupation army in 1971.
In support of his contention, advocate A Sobhan Tarafder submitted before the International Crimes Tribunal-1 that the evidence in this regard provided by an female war victim, also wife of a Liberation War hero, as claimed by the prosecution, has no credibility because the government did not recognise her as Birangana.
While continuing the defence case summing-up arguments for the eighth day, Tarafder also said that during the cross-examination, victim’s husband PW Mohammad Mostafa admitted the piece of information relating to her non-recognition as Birangana.
Besides, the defence counsel said, as a lone eyewitness account, Mansura Khatun gave confusing statements over her age and period of pregnancy during the Liberation War, referring to her national ID card and her husband’s version.
Tarafder, however, did not disagree with the prosecution case story about the existence of makeshift camps set up by the occupation army during the Liberation War for torturing freedom-loving people and fulfilling their carnal desire after picking-up women from different places.
“But my client in no way had been involved in abetting and facilitating the occupation army to committing torture and rape,” he claimed.
Describing PW Mansura Khatun as a makeover witness, the defence counsel informed the tribunal that meanwhile the government has provided her son, a rickshaw puller, with a job on master roll basis.
About the charge of slapping PW Sakhawat Hossain Ranga in mid-November due to chanting the slogan ‘Joy Bangla’ and torturing Ranga’s sibling Rafiqul Hassan Nannu, a Chhatra League leader of Carmichael College, at Al Badr camp after abduction in December, leaving him disabled, the defence counsel refraining from making any argument put the question whether the two allegations fall under the nomenclature of crimes against humanity.
After concluding the charge-wise arguments, Tarafder prayed for seeking arguments on documents.
Allowing the defence plea, the three-member tribunal, headed by Justice M Enayetur Rahim, said the matter will be heard on Wednesday and at the same time the prosecution rebuttal, if any, will also be heard.
On November 12, 2013, the tribunal framed charges against ATM Azharul Islam, a 1971 ‘Al Badr’ commander, for his involvement in crimes against humanity, including genocide, during the Liberation War in collaboration with the Pakistan occupation army.
Also assistant secretary general of Jamaat-e-Islami, Azharul faces six counts of charges of crimes against humanity during the 1971 Liberation War like killing, abduction, confinement, torture, loot, arson, rape and genocide in Rangpur district.
A week after submitting the formal charge by the prosecution, the tribunal on July 25, 2013 took cognizance of the charge against Azharul as it found a strong prima facie case against the accused under the sections 3(2) and 4(1) (2) of the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act, 1973.
It also mentioned that Azharul Islam had played a key role in the killing of intellectuals, cultural personalities, physicians and lawyers in different areas of Rangpur during the 1971 war.
On August 22, 2012, police arrested Azharul from his Moghbazar house in the capital in connection with the war crimes case, after the tribunal issued a warrant for his arrest upon a prosecution plea.