Bangladesh sen­tences war crim­i­nal to the gal­lows

The China Post - - GUIDE POST -

Bangladesh’s war crimes court Tues­day sentenced a lead­ing Is­lamist to death for rape, mass mur­der and geno­cide dur­ing the coun­try’s 1971 war of in­de­pen­dence from Pak­istan.

A.T.M. Azharul Is­lam, 62, be­came the 16th per­son and the 11th Is­lamist to be con­victed of atroc­i­ties by the In­ter­na­tional Crimes Tri­bunal, which found him guilty of be­ing a key mem­ber of a no­to­ri­ous pro-Pak­istan mili­tia.

Azharul Is­lam is the as­sis­tant sec­re­tary gen­eral of the na­tion’s largest Is­lamist party, the Ja­maat-e Is­lami.

He was or­dered “hanged by the neck” for the geno­cide of more than 1,200 peo­ple in a flood plain in the north­ern dis­trict of Rang­pur.

“No doubt, it was mass mur- der,” pre­sid­ing judge Enayetur Rahim­judge Rahim told a packed court.

Those killed in­cluded hun­dreds of Hin­dus — a mi­nor­ity in mainly Mus­lim Pak­istan — in one of the worst episodes of the nine- month war.

The con­flict ended with the for­mer East Pak­istan se­ced­ing from the regime in Is­lam­abad, with the help of In­dian troops, and be­com- ing Bangladesh.

Prime Min­is­ter Sheikh Hasina cre­ated the con­tro­ver­sial tri­bunal, a do­mes­tic court with no in­ter­na­tional or United Na­tions over­sight, in 2010.

It has mostly fo­cused on the tri­als of the Ja­maat lead­ers who op­posed the break-up of Pak­istan and saw the lib­er­a­tion war by Ben­galis as a con­spir­acy by majority-Hindu In­dia.

The tri­bunal has also sentenced to death a for­mer min­is­ter of the main op­po­si­tion Bangladesh Na­tion­al­ist Party.

De­fence lawyer Ta­jul Is­lam re­jected the charges against Azharul Is­lam and said his team planned to ap­peal the ver­dict in the Supreme Court.

“Azharul Is­lam was a 19-yearold stu­dent dur­ing the war and in no way was in­volved in war crime. The charges against him are false and fab­ri­cated,” the lawyer said.

Pre­vi­ous death sen­tences handed down against Ja­maat lead­ers, in­clud­ing its supreme and spir­i­tual lead­ers, plunged Bangladesh into its dead­li­est un­rest last year.

Thou­sands of Is­lamists clashed with po­lice in na­tion­wide protests over the ver­dicts and other is­sues that left some 500 peo­ple dead.

The BNP and Ja­maat have called the tri­als po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated, aimed at elim­i­nat­ing op­po­si­tion lead­ers rather than ren­der­ing jus­tice. Rights groups have said they fall short of in­ter­na­tional stan­dards.

The gov­ern­ment main­tains they are needed to heal the wounds of the war, which it says left three mil­lion peo­ple dead.

In­de­pen­dent re­searchers the toll much lower.

put

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