Bangladesh: war crimes tribunal indicts 89-year-old opposition leader

The International Crimes Tribunal in Bangladesh (ICTB) on May 13 indicted a former opposition leader for alleged human rights atrocities committed during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War against Pakistan. Ghulam Azam, 89, is the former head of the Jamaat-e-Islami party. He opposed the independence of Bangladesh and reportedly aided the Pakistani Army during the war. Azam stands accused of crimes against humanity, genocide, murder, rape, arson and other international crimes carried out during the liberation conflict, in which Azam allegedly created and led violent pro-Pakistan militias. Azam is the third suspect and highest profile opposition figure to have been charged since the ICTB was established by Bangladesh in 2010. He claims that the charges against him are politically motivated. The trial is set to begin on June 5.

The ICTB ordered Azam’s arrest in January. Bangladeshi officials established the tribunal in March 2010 to investigate and prosecute crimes committed in the Liberation War, during which officials estimate that Pakistani soldiers and local militia participated in more than three million killings and 200,000 rapes. The ICTB includes three high court judges and six investigators retired from civilian, law enforcement and military careers. In November the ICTB began its first trial in the case against Delwar Hossain Sayedee, a former member of Parliament in the National Assembly of Bangladesh and one of the former leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami. Human Rights Watch last year sent a letter to the Bangladesh government praising its efforts through the ICTB to prosecute war crimes, but urged the government to ensure that the trials are carried out in accordance with international human rights expectations.

From Jurist, May 13. Used with permission.

See our last post on Bangladesh.

  1. Bangladesh: another opposition leader indicted for war crimes
    The International Crimes Tribunal in Bangladesh (ICTB) on June 10 indicted former Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) leader Abdul Alim on 17 counts of crimes against humanity, making him the seventh high-profile leader to be indicted, the country’s national news agency reported. At his hearing, Alim was formally charged with inciting genocide and torture, among other crimes. He pleaded not guilty on all charges. His trial was set for July 9. (Jurist, June 11)

  2. Bangladesh police arrest high-profile war crimes suspect
    Bangladesh police on June 17 arrested Mir Kashem Ali for his alleged crimes against humanity committed during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War. Earlier that day the International Criminal Tribunal in Bangladesh (ICTB) had issued an arrest warrant against the chairman of Diganta Media Corporation who is also a senior leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami party. With the arrest warrant, the court also ordered the police to present him to the court within 24 hours. He has been accused of being an auxiliary to the Pakistani armed forces and running a torture facility at the Dalim Hotel during the war. Ali’s lawyers told that they will appeal to the tribunal for his bail. He is the eighth high-profile leader who has been indicted for the crimes committed during the war. (Jurist, June 18)