Bangladesh war crimes tribunal sentences 3 to death over 1971 atrocities

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Dhaka: Bangladesh’s International Crimes Tribunal on Tuesday sentenced three persons to death for collaborating with the Pakistan Army and committing crimes against humanity during the country’s Liberation War in 1971.

One of the convicts is a fugitive and was tried in absentia but the other two faced the trial in person…they all were activists of Jamaat-e-Islami (party), senior prosecutor Syed Haider Ali said.

Jamaat-e-Islami was opposed to Bangladesh’s 1971 independence from Pakistan while its activists were the key-elements of Pakistan military’s auxiliary units like Razakar and Gestapo-like Al-Badar forces.

A three-member panel of the tribunal led by Justice Shahinur Islam pronounced the verdict ordering the convicts to be hanged by neck until their death.

The convicts are in their late 60s and 70s and were known little to the public unlike the several other high-profile Jamaat leaders tried earlier while they carried out their atrocities as Razakars in northwestern Naogaon district.

The prosecution lawyers said of the three convicts, Rezaul Karim alias Montu, was on the run. Karim was the one who led a Razakar unit in the neighbourhood of his ancestral Naogaon district, while the other two convicts — Shahid Mandol and Nazrul Islam — were his accomplices.

Montu was a student of northwestern Rajshahi University in 1971 and leader of Jamaat’s student wing Islami Chhatra Sangha.

Under Bangladesh’s war crimes law, the convicts could appeal against the verdict in the apex Appellate Division of the Supreme Court.

The counsels of the three convicts said they were preparing to challenge the judgment in consultation with their clients.

Bangladesh in 2010 set up two high-powered tribunals, initiating the trial process to bring to justice the collaborators of the Pakistani Army which committed war crimes in the 1971 War of Liberation. The two tribunals have so far delivered judgments in 46 cases.

The tribunals handed down death penalties in most of the cases, while in few cases the convicts were jailed until death in view of their old ages.

Only six convicts have been executed so far after exhaustion of their appeals, review petitions and clemency petitions to the Bangladesh president, while 22 convicts and 53 accused still remained absconding.

The tribunal delivered its first judgment on January 21, 2013 when it handed down death penalty to Abul Kalam Azad aka Bachchu Razakar.

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