Dhaka to follow Nuremberg trials model for its war criminals

April 10th, 2009 - 1:15 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, April 10 (IANS) Bangladesh will follow the post World War-II Nuremberg trials as a model to amend a law under which it wants to try those who collaborated with the erstwhile East Pakistan regime during the 1971 freedom war.
The Nuremberg Trials were a series of trials, notably for the prosecution of prominent members of the political, military, and economic leadership of Nazi Germany after its defeat in World War II. The trials were held in Germany’s Nuremberg city.

Dhaka plans to amend its International Crimes (Tribunals) Act 1973 in the next few days to incorporate a provision for trying war criminals in absentia.

Many of the 1971 war criminals are now hiding in different countries and the act does not have the provision to try them in absentia, The Daily Star said Friday.

Armed with a resolution passed by parliament, the government will over the next three weeks appoint a three-member tribunal headed by a high court judge to hold the trials.

It has finalised formation of an investigation agency comprising five or seven members to be headed by a Criminal Investigation Department (CID) official.

“We have just started the process. The trial of war criminals would be fair and transparent so that no innocent person is victimised. We want to bring the real culprits to justice,” Law Minister Shafique Ahmed told the media Thursday.

The UN has offered Bangladesh assistance in trying the war criminals. The Dhaka office of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has named four international experts with experience in war crime trials.

The government has taken initiatives to seek war-related documents and evidence from Pakistan and the US, which backed Pakistan during the 1971 Liberation War.

Pakistan in particular will be requested to give information about Razakars, the civilian Islamist militia that collaborated with the then government and engaged in killing hundreds of unarmed civilians, targeting religious minorities, sympathisers of the freedom movement and artists and writers.

Over the last 38 years, considerable documentation and collection of evidence has been conducted mostly by former freedom fighters and non-government bodies to list crimes including rape, loot and arson by the militia that went under names like Al Shams and Al Badr.

As per records, some three million civilians were killed by the Pakistani occupation forces and their collaborators in 1971, while about 200,000 women were raped, and thousands of houses were torched and plundered.

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