Bangladesh moves against Islamists for 1971 killings

July 15th, 2010 - 10:15 pm ICT by IANS  

Sheikh Hasina Dhaka, July 15 (IANS) A Dhaka court Thursday remanded a top Islamist leader, already in detention, to three days custody in a case relating to the killing of 345 unarmed civilians during the country’s 1971 Liberation War.
The move by the government sets the pace for the holding of trials for war crimes.

Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami secretary general Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojahid was placed on a three-day remand by the third Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Mohammad Ali Hossain, Star Online web site of The Daily Star reported.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government, which had pledged to hold the trials, amended the relevant law and made preparations to try hundreds of people who killed unarmed civilians in the run to the separation from Pakistan.

The top brass of the Jamaat, the country’s largest Islamist party, are said to head the list of those accused of war crimes.

They allegedly led Islamist militia with names like Al Badr, Al Shams and Razakars who targeted pro-liberation people and religious minorities.

Jamaat Ameer (chief) Matiur Rahman Nizami and vice chief Delwar Hossain Sayedee are already in detention and being interrogated on charge of “hurting sentiments of Muslims” at a party rally earlier this year.

Another Dhaka court Thursday re-fixed July 18 for hearing on a prayer for a seven-day remand of Sayedee in a case filed for attempt to kill the late Humayun Azad, a professor, in February 2002.

Nizami and his colleagues are accused of leading Al Badr.

The Jamaat had opposed Bangladesh’s freedom movement and its emergence as a free nation. It was banned along with other Islamist parties on independence, but staged a comeback when Bangladesh came under the rule of military strongman, Gen. Ziaur Rahman.

Khaleda Zia, Rahman’s widow, a two term prime minister and the current opposition leader, has protested the arrest of the Jamaat leaders who were ministers in her government during 2001-06.

The Jamaat is already protesting its leaders’ detention and the impending trial for “war crimes”. Many of its cadres have courted arrest in the past few days.

Meanwhile, the High Court Thursday directed interrogators “not to torture” Nizami, Mojaheed and Saydee in any manner.

The court also directed the authorities to allow their counsel to meet them for legal consultations.

It also asked the authorities to take steps for medical check-ups of the Jamaat leaders against whom many cases, including one of sedition have been slapped.

The court passed the order following a petition filed by the Jamaat leaders challenging their arrests.

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