Bangladesh arrests two on war crimes’ charges

February 14th, 2009 - 4:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Feb 14 (DPA) Two leaders of Bangladesh’s largest Islamist party have been arrested on charges of committing war crimes during the country’s war of independence 38 years ago, media reports said Saturday.

Daud Hossain, 70, and Nur-a-Anwar, 65, who belong to Jamaat-e-Islami, were arrested Friday in the northwestern district of Rajshahi and accused of killing independence supporters, the police said.

The arrests were the first made by the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed, who took office last month after promising to bring the 1971 war criminals to justice.

A leader in the national offices of Jamaat-e-Islami, which sided with Pakistan in Bangladesh’s struggle for independence, said the party had no information about the arrests.

The duo were taken to court Saturday for permission to question them on their actions during the war, in which about three million people died.

Bangladesh’s parliament on Jan 29 approved a resolution seeking speedy war crimes’ prosecutions. Hasina’s government has also set up an expert committee to examine other countries’ procedures in prosecuting war criminals.

An early initiative to prosecute war crimes ended with the 1975 assassination in an army coup of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Hasina’s father and the architect of Bangladesh’s independence. Bangladesh’s political instability has hindered it ever since.

The Bangladesh Sector Commander Forum, a group of 1971 war veterans, said last year that 11,000 indicted war criminals were released from jails a few months after Mujib’s assassination.

Earlier, the prime minister sought UN assistance to try the war criminals, many of whom were rehabilitated in Bangladeshi politics.

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