Delwar Hossain Sayedee, a senior Jamaat-e-Islami leader, is currently in detention in relation to non-1971 related crimes - though the Tribunal has sought a 'production warrant' against him. A previous blog explains the allegations on which the court issued the production warrant (two separate First Information Reports (FIR) were initially lodged at two police stations, and were recently transferred to the Tribunal.) Sayedee has not however been able to be presented to the Tribunal - first time because he was ill (10 Aug) and then subsequently because the court was under refurbishment (24 Aug). He is now due in court on 21 Sept.
A three-member investigation committee headed by assistant police superintendent Mohammad Helal Uddin is reported to have gone on 18 August to Badura village in Sadar Upazila in Pirojpur to record witness accounts. Police inspectors Mohammad Obaidullah and Nur Hossain were also present.
Uddin told reporters that they had recorded 12 statements of witnesses under section 161 of the Criminal Procedural Code (see extract at end of this post) at Rajlakkhi High School and College auditorium at Parerhat Bandar. One of the witness statement taken was commander Mahabubul Alam, a freedom-fighter.
bdnews24.com reported that the witnesses had told the police that Sayedee and his associates took away businessman Madan Saha Malakar and 13 others Hindus from Parerhat Bandar, Indurkani and from other areas to the Pakistani camp at Pirojpur. It was alleged that these people were later shot dead at the old landing station of Boleswar River.
It was also reported by witnesses that Mozahar Mallick, Danesh Mollah, Moslem Mawlana were among Sayedee's prime associates during the independence war.
Freedom-fighter Ruhul Amin is also said to have told the investigators that Sayedee had looted the residence of Madan Saha and have stolen Madan's wooden-house, worth around Tk 2-3 million for use by his in-law's.
After the two day inquiries Uddin is reported to have said, "We have got much new information from the field work, which we did not find anywhere, not even on the case documents."
Golam Azam has now retired from politics - though since he was head of the Jamaat=e-Islami during the 1971 war he is a crucial character.
It was reported on Aug 22 that Tribunal investigators - led by additional police superintendent Matiur Rahman - arrived in Brahmanbaria to investigate the murders of Shiru Mia and his son during 1971 war. The two other members of the team were Shyamal Chowdhury and Probir Bhattacharya.
Golam's ancestral home is in Nabinagar Upazila of Brahmanbaria district
Rahman told reporters "Rajakars and Al Badars killed Shiru Mia and his 14-year old son in broad daylight claiming them to be miscreants." He said that primary proof about the alleged crimes was found, but did not elaborate.
bdnews24.com: War crimes trial against Sayedee launched, 18 Aug 2010
bdnews24.com: Probe team ends field work in Sayedee case, 20 Aug 2010
bdnews24.com: Police starts Ghulam Azam investigation, 23 August 2010
Powers of Police to take statements
The investigation powers of the investigation officers, established under the International Crimes (Tribunal) Act 1973 are set out in section 8 of the Act. This states:
(1) The Government may establish an Agency for the purposes of investigation into crimes specified in section 3; and any officer belonging to the Agency shall have the right to assist the prosecution during the trial.(This procedure is similiar to that set down in section 161 of the Code of Criminal Procedure)
(2) Any person appointed as a Prosecutor is competent to act as an Investigation Officer and the provisions relating to investigation shall apply to such Prosecutor.
(3) Any Investigation Officer making an investigation under this Act may, by order in writing, require the attendance before himself of any person who appears to be acquainted with the circumstances of the case; and such person shall attend as so required.
(4) Any Investigation Officer making an investigation under this Act may examine orally any person who appears to be acquainted with the facts and circumstances of the case.
(5) Such person shall be bound to answer all questions put to him by an Investigation Officer and shall not be excused from answering any question on the ground that the answer to such question will criminate, or may tend directly or indirectly to criminate, such person: Provided that no such answer, which a person shall be compelled to give, shall subject him to any arrest or prosecution, or be proved against him in any criminal proceeding.
(6) The Investigation Officer may reduce into writing any statement made to him in the course of examination under this section.
(7) Any person who fails to appear before an Investigation Officer for the purpose of examination or refuses to answer the questions put to him by such Investigation Officer shall be punished with simple imprisonment which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to Taka two thousand, or with both.
(8) Any Magistrate of the first class may take cognizance of an offence punishable under sub-section (7) upon a complaint in writing by an Investigation Officer.
(9) Any investigation done into the crimes specified in section 3 shall be deemed to have been done under the provisions of this Act
Section 5 and section 7 are somewhat contentious - as they place a compulsion on witnesses to give statements, including providing information that may incriminate themselves (though it cant be used as evidence against him). This issue will be discussed in a separate post.
There is no suggestion that the statements given to the police in the Sayedee/Azam's investigation were anything other than voluntary.
In the news report, it was mentioned that the statements were taken under section 161 the Code of Criminal Procedure 1898. This and section 162 are set out below (though it should be noted that the Code of Criminal Procedure, does not formally to the 1973 Act).
Examination of witnessed by police.- (1) Any police-officer making an investigation under this Chapter or any police-officer not below such rank as the Government may, by general or special order, prescribe in this behalf, acting on the requisition of such officer may examine orally any person supposed to be acquainted with the facts and circumstances of the case.
(2) Such person shall be bound to answer all questions relating to such case put to him by such officer, other-than questions the answers to which would have a tendency to expose him to a criminal charge or to a penalty or forfeiture.
(3) The police-officer may reduce into writing any statement made to him in the course of an examination under this section, and if he does so he shall make a separate record of the statement of each such person whose statement he records.
Statements to police not to be signed; use of such statements in evidence.- (1) No statement made by any person to a police officer in the course of an investigation under this Chapter shall, if reduced into writing, be signed by the person making it; nor shall any such statement or any record thereof, whether in a police-diary or otherwise, or any part of such statement or record, be used for any purpose (save as hereinafter provided) at any inquiry or trial in respect of any offence under investigation at the time when such statement was made:
Provided that, when any witness is called for the prosecution in such inquiry or trial whose statement has been reduced into writing as aforesaid, the Court shall on the request of the accused, refer to such writing and direct that the accused be furnished with a coy thereof, in order that any part of such statement, if duly proved, may be used to contradict such witness in the manner prescribed by section 145 of the Evidence Act, 1872. When any part of such statement is so used,any part thereof may also be used in the re-examination of such witness, but for the purpose only of explaining any matter referred to in his cross-examination:
Provided further that, if the Court is of opinion that any part of any such statement is not relevant to the subject-matter of the inquiry or trial or that its disclosure to the accused is not essential in the interests of justice and is inexpedient in the public interests, it shall record such opinion (but not the reasons therefore)and shall exclude such part from the copy of the statement furnished to the accused.
(2) Nothing in this section shall be deemed to apply to any statement falling within the provisions of section 32, clause (l), of the Evidence Act, 1872 or to affect the provisions of section 27 of that Act.
[Section 32 of Evidence Act relates to statements of a dying person, and section 27 relates to confession of accused in custody)