Dhaka to revert to 1973 act for `war criminals’ trial

March 26th, 2009 - 12:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Sheikh Hasina Dhaka, March 26 (IANS) Bangladesh will revert to a 1973 act to resume trial against those who collaborated with the Pakistan government during the freedom movement and are referred to as “war criminals”.
“We have examined the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act 1973 for trial of the war criminals… The government will complete the trial in the shortest possible time,” State Minister for Home Affairs Tanjim Ahmed Sohel Taj told the media after an inter-ministerial meeting.

Law Minister Shafique Ahmed had earlier announced a “final decision” on the trial of the accused under the 1973 act.

One or more tribunals, of three to four members each, will be formed under the act for the quickest trial of the accused of war crimes in 1971, said Ahmed.

If a tribunal is formed, it will be the first-ever practical step for the trial of the war criminals of 1971, New Age newspaper said Friday.

Ministers, experts and the authorities concerned have started examining provisions stipulated in the 1973 act, following a parliamentary resolution passed Jan 29.

The act had been passed by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who led the freedom movement in 1971. But a general amnesty that he declared in 1973 and his assassination in 1975 ended the process of trying those dubbed as “collaborators” of the East Pakistan regime.

The trial is mainly against those who formed Islamist militias like Al Shams and Al Badr that carried out looting, rape and killings of unarmed civilians who sympathised with the freedom movement.

While some died and many fled to Pakistan and other countries, the trial is aimed at the survivors and the current top leaders of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI), the country’s largest Islamist party.

During Bangladesh’s war of independence against Pakistan’s occupation forces in 1971, three million people were killed, 269,000 women violated and tens of thousands of homes torched by the Pakistani forces and their local collaborators, historians say.

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