We will wait, watch: Jamaat on war crimes trial

March 26th, 2010 - 2:24 pm ICT by IANS  

Sheikh Hasina Dhaka, March 26 (IANS) The Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI), whose top leaders are expected to be tried for alleged war crimes during Bangladesh’s independence movement, has adopted a wait and watch policy as judges were named for the trial.
“We’ll give our reaction once we learn about the government’s aims and objectives behind the trial,” The Daily Star quoted JeI secretary general Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed as saying.

Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury, a leader of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), said the proposed trial was politically motivated and aimed at embarrassing the opposition parties.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government Thursday announced the trial, through a gazette notification that was approved by President Zillur Rahman.

Justice Mohammed Nizamul Huq, a high court judge, was appointed chairman of the three-judge tribunal formed under Section 6 of the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act 1973.

The two other judges of the tribunal are high court judge Justice A.T.M. Fazle Kabir and former district judge A.K.M. Zahir Ahmed.

The panel chairman assured that “no innocent will be punished” as a result of the trial.

“The trial process has begun after 39 years… It will take time to complete the investigation as the evidences of crimes committed in 1971 are lying scattered across the country. We want an acceptable trial free of any weakness,” Law Minister Shafique Ahmed said.

The JeI had opposed the freedom movement of 1971 and its top leaders, Ameer (chief) Maulana Matiur Rahman Nizami and secretary general Mojaheed, were then young leaders of the Islamist militia.

Documentary evidence gathered against the two and about 1,500 others points to their involvement in the killing of unarmed civilians and intellectuals. The killing of civilians during the freedom movement is considered a war crime in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh says three million people perished during the nine month freedom struggle. Dhaka amended a 1973 law to devise rules and procedures to bring them in line with the international law.

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