Bangladesh opposition leader to be tried for ‘war crimes’

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

DHAKA - Salauddin Quader Chowdhury, a senior leader of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), will be tried on charges of “war crimes” for having targeted a Hindu entrepreneur and 100 others during the 1971 war for freedom, it was announced Wednesday.

The International Crimes Tribunal asked prison authorities to produce Chowdhury before it Dec 30. The 58-year-old is a BNP MP and a businessman.

Chowdhury is considered close to BNP chief and former prime minister Khaleda Zia and leads Islamists within the party. His family has a strong political base in the Chittagong port town.

He is the son of late Fazlul Quader Chowdhury, fifth Speaker of the Pakistani National Assembly who belonged to then Pakistan President Ayub Khan’s Convention Muslim League.

The tribunal issued the arrest warrant against the outspoken BNP leader Dec 19 after receiving petitions from the lawyers’ panel and investigation agency seeking permission to detain him for war crimes.

Chowdhury is accused of killing Nutan Chandra Kundu, founder of a herbal medicine factory in Chittagong, on April 13, 1971 — and 107 others.

Chowdhury’s trial is a major setback for the BNP.

The party said it would complain to the UN, alleging he was subjected to “inhuman torture” while in hail since Dec 16.

The government has denied the charge, saying he is being held and tried under the law of the land.

Zia has said she is not against the trial of “war criminals” but wants them to be held in an impartial manner.

Also facing trial for “war crimes” are top leaders of Zia’s Islamist ally, Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami.

Its chief, Motiour Rahman Nizami, and four top office bearers are in jail.

The government has said it would start the trial next month.

Filed under: Politics

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