Bangladesh opposition leader faces trial for ‘war crime’

Thursday, December 30, 2010

DHAKA - Bangladesh’s war crimes tribunal Thursday began the trial of an opposition lawmaker accused of killing over a hundred people during the country’s liberation war in 1971.

The three-judge panel of the International Crimes Tribunal has fixed Jan 17, 2011, for hearing the charges against Salauddin Quader Chowdhury for committing “crimes against humanity”.

Chowdhury, 58, a Standing Committee member of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), who has been under remand, was brought before the tribunal amidst tight security, the Daily Star reported.

The charges against him, to be read out Jan 17, include Chowdhury’s alleged involvement in the killings of Nutan Chandra Singh, an entrepreneur and philanthropist belonging to the minority Hindu community, and 106 others in different localities of Chittagong port town in April 1971.

Bangladesh was carved out of Pakistan in December 1971. The panel headed by Justice Nizamul Huq was constituted after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government amended a 1973 legislation and received guidance from the US, Britain and Germany on how to conduct the trial for “war crimes”.

The tribunal is also expected to try other top brass of the Jamaat-e-Islami, the country’s largest Islamist party, who are already in detention. They include party chief and former minister Maulana Motiur Rahman Nizami.

Chowdhury, who leads the Islamist group within the BNP, is considered close to BNP chief and former prime minister Khaleda Zia.

Zia, the widow of former president Ziaur Rahman, has said she is not against “war crimes” trials but would like these to be “impartial”.

She has charged Hasina, her arch rival, with political witch-hunting and targeting her partymen and the JeI, her political ally.

Filed under: Politics

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