Bangladesh’s war-crimes court is set to deliver the verdict on BNP leader Salauddin Quader Chowdhury accused of 23 war crimes charges on 72 counts.
The verdict against the opposition MP for his crimes committed during the 1971 Liberation War will come on Tuesday from the International Crimes Tribunal-1, one and a half years after the trial begun.
Salauddin Quader was indicted on Apr 4 last year on charges that include rape, murder, abduction and torture during the War of Independence. He has been behind bars since Dec 16, 2010.
His father Muslim League leader Fazlul Quader Chowdhury had also opposed the secession from Pakistan. Fazlul Quader was arrested and had died in prison in new-born Bangladesh.
The case at the ICT against Salauddin Quader was lodged on July 26, 2010. A former advisor on parliamentary affairs to the then Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, the Chittagong MP was shown arrested on Dec 19, 2010, three days after his detention.
The investigation report, including a 55-page chargesheet, 1,275 related documents and 18 CDs, was submitted on Oct 4, 2011.
The prosecution presented a total of 41 witnesses including investigation officer Md Nurul Islam who deposed against Salauddin Quader. The tribunal has also accepted depositions of four more witnesses made to the investigation officer.
The defence presented only four witnesses including Salauddin Quader. The other three are his college and university friend Nizam Ahmed, trustee board member of Asia-Pacific University Qayum Reza Chowdhury and former Ambassador Abdul Momen Chowdhury.
The charges are as follows:
The first charge accuses Salauddin Quader Chowdhury of genocide. He had ordered the abduction of seven Hindus on Apr 4-5, 1971. Six of them were tortured to death at his 'Goods Hill' residence in his presence.
According to the second charge, on Apr 13, he along with several others accompanied the Pakistani army that raided Maddhya Gohira Hindu Parha in Raozan. Pakistani army opened fire killing Poncha Bala Sharma, Sunil Sharma, Jyoti Lal Sharma, and Dulal Sharma on the spot and Dr Makhon Lal Sharma died after several days from wounds sustained during the attacks.
Another victim, Jayanta Kumar Sharma, was alive for some years, handicapped.
According to the tribunal, the acts of murder and injury committed in order to destroy the members of Hindu religious group in whole or in part fall under the category of genocide.
The third charge accuses the BNP MP of killing Kundeshwari Oushadhalaya owner and social worker Nutan Chandra Singha of Raozan’s Gohira on Apr 13. Killing of unarmed Singha has been termed a crime against humanity.
The fourth charge accuses him of planning, complicity, genocide, loot, arson, and deportation. He had led a group of accomplices along with Pakistan Army and raided Jogot Mollo Parha on April 13. Two of his accomplices had gone to the Hindus there and asked them to attend a peace meeting. They were fired upon when they gathered in the courtyard of Kiron Bikash Chowdhury’s house.
As many as 32 people were killed at the time while three others survived with injuries. Later the house was looted and set on fire. The survivors later fled to India.
The fifth charge accuses Chowdhury of genocide and arson as crimes against humanity. He had led the Pakistani Army to Banik Parha at Sultanpur village at Raozan at noon on Apr 13, 1971. They had opened fire on the unarmed civilian Hindus there and murdered four.
According to the sixth charge, he led the Pakistani troops to attack Unsattar Parha at Raozan in the afternoon same day. They gathered the Hindus of the locality for a peace meeting and following a pre-arranged plan to open fire on the people. Altogether 70 were murdered, of whom 50 people were identified and the rest were unknown.
One Januti Bala Pal was shot in the waist, but survived. She and the rest of the Hindus had fled the country and taken shelter in India as refugee.
Charges of genocide and deportation have been brought against Chowdhury in this count.
Charge number seven accuses Salauddin Quader of crimes against humanity which includes complicity in murder of Satish Chandra Palit on Apr 14, burning his house and deportation of his family.
According to the eighth charge, he had direct complicity in abduction and murder of Awami League leader Sheikh Mozaffar Ahmed and his son Sheikh Alamgir on Apr 17.
The ninth charge accuses him of genocide, loot, arson and deportation.
In mid-April, he was staying in a Razakar camp at Boalkhali while Pakistani Army caught Shanti Deb of Munsirhat and killed him at Banik Parha, near where he was at the time. Pakistani Army and Razakars also looted and burned down the house of Ram Babu of Banik Parha and Hindu Parha of Kodurkhali at the time. Hindus of those households later fled to India.
According to the 10th charge, he accompanied Pakistani Army in looting the house of Manik Dhar of Dabua village at Raozan and torching the house of local Chairman Shadhon Dhar.
The 11th charge accuses Chowdhury of genocide and deportation.
On Apr 20, Pakistani Army and Razakars jointly attacked Hindu populated Shakhapura village at Boalkhali and killed 76 people in the jungle and paddy field near Shakhapura Primary School they had taken shelter in. Family members and rest of the community had left the country to save lives.
Salauddin Quader has been accused of genocide in the 12th charge. He had led the Pakistani Army in Jagot Mollo Parha village on May 5 and killed Bijay Krishna Chowdhury Rakhal, Bibhutibhushan Chowdhury and Harendra Lal Chowdhury.
The 13th charge accuses him of complicity in genocide, loot, rape and persecution on political grounds.
On May 10, Pakistani Army arrived at Ghashi Majhirpar based on the directions from Salauddin Quader, his father and Peace Committee member Oli Ahmed to launch an attack on the people of the area, mostly Awami League supporters. Six people were shot dead and two injured while five women were raped.
The 14th charge accuses the politician of abduction, confinement, torture and murder.
On May 20, Salauddin Quader and his accomplices led Pakistani Army to abduct Awami League supporter Md Hanif from his house at the bank of Karta Dighi at Raozan’s Patherhat and took him to Goods Hill. Hanif’s family had tried for his release through Salauddin Quader’s relative Nazma Khatun, but that did not work out when he demanded Tk 1,000 for that.
Hanif was tortured by Salauddin Quader himself, Nazma had said. He was killed later.
The 15th charge accuses him of abduction, confinement and torture of Sheikh Maimun Ali Chowdhury in mid-May, 1971.
Salauddin Quader abducted, confined, tortured and murdered one Omar Faruk on Jun 7, 1971 at his Goods Hill residence, according to the 16th charge.
The next charge accuses him of abduction, confinement and torture.
On Jul 5, 1971 he had abducted Nizamuddin Ahmed, Shiraj and Wahid alias Junu Pagla and took them to Goods Hill. They were abused, tortured and interrogated and later taken to Chittagong stadium where 10/12 others were being held. Junu was released while Ahmed and Shiraj were confined until Bangladesh won freedom.
Charge number 18 accuses him of confinement, abduction and torture of Md Salahuddin at his Goods Hill residence in the third week of July, 1971.
According to charge number 19, the Pakistani army picked up two brothers, Nur Mohammad and Nur Alam on 27 July, 1971 and took them to Goods Hill. They later picked up another brother of theirs,Mahbub Alam and tortured all the three .
Salauddin Quader took TK 10,000 and released Mohammad and Alam on the next day but told them that Mahbub was sick.
Later, the brothers came to know that Mahbub had been killed.
Charges of murder, abduction, confinement and torture have been levelled against Chowdhury for this incident.
On Jul 27/28, 1971 Razakars detained Aklash Mia from Kadur Khali and eventually took him to Goods Hill and he was tortured to death there.
Charge number 20 accuses him of confinement, torture and murder.
Salauddin Quader, along with the Pakistan army, had allegedly picked up Fazlul Haque Chowdhury, Union Parishad Chairman of Binajuri, in the first week of August, 1971. He was taken to Goods Hill and crippled by sustained torture.
He was handed over to Raozan police and was later released, but died on Sept 10, 1987.
During his life time he had told many about the occurrence and his witnessing of torture and murder at the Goods Hill.
He is accused of abduction, confinement and torture under charge number 21.
According to charge number 22, he had abducted Md Nuru Chowdhury with the help of his Al-Shams Bahini in second week of August, 1971.
Chowdhury was taken to Goods Hill and tortured, but released after Chowdhury's father paid Salauddin Quader TK 6,500.
It accuses him of abduction, confinement and torture.
The last charge accuses the BNP MP of abduction, confinement and torture.
On Sept 2, 1971, Salauddin Quader allegedly tortured one M Salimullah at his Goods Hill residence after he had objected to torturing one of his Hindu employees earlier in the day.
Salimullah was released the following day after a night of torture.