Monday, December 22, 2014

War crimes accused Syed Mohammad Qaisar

The International Crimes Tribunal will deliver its judgement in the case against war crimes accused Syed Mohammad Qaisar, a former Jatiya Party state minister, for his alleged involvement in the killing of over 150 people mostly Hindus, rape and other crimes during the 1971 Liberation War.
Justice Obaidul Hassan, chairman of tribunal 2, passed the order yesterday.
During the closing arguments in the case, the prosecution sought death for Qaisar for the crimes he had committed as the top leader of “Qaisar Bahini” – a group formed with 500-700 anti-liberation people in Habiganj and Brahmanbaria to collaborate with the Pakistani occupation forces.
The prosecution also demanded compensation for two rape victims and a war baby.
According to the prosecution, he was a local Peace Committee leader and razakar commander. Son of a Muslim League leader, Qaisar had been affiliated with Convention Muslim League, BNP and Jatiya Party in his political career.
Qaisar from Itakhola village at Madhabpur in Habiganj contested the 1970’s election as an independent candidate but was defeated. After the independence, he fled to London and on his return in 1978 Qaisar was elected an MP in the 1979 election as an independent candidate and joined the BNP under the leadership of Gen Ziaur Rahman.
Later he joined the Jatiya Party and was elected from Habiganj 4 in 1986 and 1988 elections. In 1988, Qaisar joined the Jatiya Party and became state minister for agriculture.
The accused was arrested on May 16 last year, just a day after the tribunal had ordered his arrest, and admitted to a private hospital in the capital. The tribunal later granted him conditional bail considering his age.
The 73-year-old is facing 16 charges of crimes against humanity that include genocide, torture, murder and rape.
He was indicted on February 2 and the trial began on March 4. A total of
 32 prosecution witnesses including a rape victim and a war baby testified against the accused; the defence, however, did not place any witness.
On August 20, the tribunal kept the case adjourned for verdict. It also cancelled his bail and ordered jail. The prosecution said since war crimes convict Abdul Alim had not been given capital punishment due to old age, Qaisar tried to show his complications before the tribunal.
On charge 16, Qaisar was charged for participating, abetting, facilitating and substantially contributing in the actual commission of the killing of 108 unarmed civilians belonging to Hindu community in Nasirnagar.
In charge 12, the tribunal said at noon of a day in mid-August, Qaisar, his companions in “Qaisar Bahini” and members of razakar force had brought Mazeda Begum, her father Atab Mia and uncle Ayub Mia to the army camp set up at Jagadishpur High School at Madhabpur, on capture from their house.
Qaisar had handed Mazeda over to the army, despite protest on her father’s part. The army men thus committed successive rape upon Mazeda.
In charges six, Qaisar has been charged for raping an indigenous woman, Hiramoni, on May 11 or 12th of 1971 at Chanpur Tea Garden. Qaisar along with the Pakistani army personnel had gone to Chunarughat area and raped the Santal woman.
Charges six, seven and eight mention the offences took place in May 1971. At that time, at least 17 people had been murdered and tortured by Qaisar along with the Pakistani army.
According to charges 12-16, he had captured freedom fighters from Chunarughat, Madhabpur and Nasirnagar. In these criminal incidents, Qaisar used his personal force “Qaisar Bahini” to assist the Pakistani Army.
Monwara Begum of the tribunal’s investigation agency conducted the probe against Qaisar. On May 29, 2010, the War Crime Fact Finding Committee handed over a list of the 19 top-rated war criminals to the tribunal. Qaisar’s name was on the list.
‘No Qaisar Bahini’
The defence of Qaisar during the closing arguments in the case claimed that there had been no collaborators’ group named “Qaisar Bahini” in Habiganj in 1971. Lawyer SM Shahjahan also claimed that the prosecution had failed to prove the case.
The defence refuted the claims made by third prosecution witness Md Tajul Islam, 83. During his testimony on March 30, Tajul apologised to the tribunal for his involvement in atrocities as a member of the “Qaisar Bahini.”
The witness said Qaisar had welcomed the Pakistani force to Shahbazpur along with his 15 associates on April 27, 1971. Then he met the commander of the Pakistan Army at Noapara and requested him to provide the group with arms. Tajul said he had been with Qaisar at that time.
The tribunal also recorded the description of formation of the “Qaisar Bahini.”
On April 14, Manzur Ali, a Convention Muslim League leader and uncle of Qaisar, called a meeting at his place where the chairman and the member of local Union Parishad were present. Qaisar joined the meeting. “I was present at that meeting and Qaisar was appointed as the chief of Peace Committee.”
Tajul admitted that he had also been made a member of the Peace Committee. “And after that meeting, Qaisar created his group with at least 500 people from Itkhola, Ghatua, Belghar and Bejura villages,” the witness said.
During the closing arguments, prosecutor Tureen Afroz said: “For the first time, a war child has testified in a war crimes trial in Bangladesh. Two women victims and the war child – also a woman – have been enduring miserable life. They were also subjected to social harassment. They are real claimants for compensation.”
Then the tribunal asked her about the process of paying compensation, if Qaisar was convicted. The prosecutor replied that it was possible to pay the victims from the property of the accused. Official documents stated that at least 25,000 women faced forced pregnancies during the Liberation War which was the result of one of the war strategies of the Pakistani Army and the collaborators, the prosecutor said.

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