Three-judge ICT panel says charges against political workers ‘proved beyond doubt’
DHAKA: A special tribunal in Bangladeshi on Wednesday sentenced death to six political workers, including a former lawmaker, for ‘committing crimes’ against humanity and siding with the security forces during the 1971 war of separation.
A three-judge panel of the International Crimes Tribunal of Bangladesh (ICT-BD) handed down the capital punishment to the six members of the Jamaat-e-Islami, saying the charges against them were ‘proved beyond doubt.’ Panel chair Justice Shahinur Islam pronounced that they be convicted accordingly and sentenced to death under section 20(2) of the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act, 1973.
The verdict came as Bangladesh nearly completed the long-delayed trial of what it called ‘1971 war crimes’ since the high-powered tribunal was established in 2010. The tribunal is charged with the task to try persons responsible for committing ‘genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and other crimes’ under the international law committed during the 1971 war.
The six men sentenced to death hail from Gaibandha, northwestern area, and belong to the Jamaat-e-Islami party which was opposed to separation in 1971 and joined hands with the government’s efforts against miscreants and invaders. But only one of the six ‘convicts’ faced the trial in person while the rest, including former Jamaat lawmaker Abu Saleh Mohammad Abdul Aziz Mia, were tried in absentia as they were on the run.
Under a special law, the convicts could challenge the judgement before the apex appellate division of the Supreme Court. Bangladesh has so far executed six ‘war crimes’ convicts, five of them Jamaat leaders and one Bangladesh Nationalist Party leader, since the trial process began in 2010.
Pakistan already denied that its armed forces had committed ‘war crimes’ during India-sponsored separation war in 1971. Foreign Affairs Ministry termed Dhaka’s reactions as baseless and unfounded assertions of Bangladesh against Pakistan. “It is regrettable that attempts have been made by the Bangladesh government to malign Pakistan, despite our ardent desire to develop brotherly relations,” it said.
“Pakistan believes that the peoples of both the countries not only want to maintain but also further strengthen bonds of friendship and brotherhood,” it said. The Amnesty International had said that death sentence for ‘war crimes’ would not bring justice to the victims of the 1971 war. Additionally, the defence team had consistently raised concerns that trial proceedings have not followed fair trial standards.