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1971 war crimes: Bangladesh tribunal sentences three to death for 1971 war crimes

A three-member bench of the special court headed by Justice Anwarul Haque delivered the 289-page verdict in the presence of the two convicted in custody

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1971 Bangladesh Pakistan War. Image source: defence.pk
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  • A three-member bench of the special court headed by Justice Anwarul Haque delivered the 289-page verdict in the presence of the two convicted in custody
  • The three-member tribunal bench had tried the eight accused on June 19 and kept the verdict pending
  • The accused were said to have committed murder, abduction, torture, confinement and arson between April 22 and December 11, 1971

Bangladesh’s International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) on Monday, July 18, held eight Al-Badr men guilty of crimes against humanity during the 1971 Liberation War and sentenced three of them to death.

Five others were sentenced to life in prison.

Ashraf Hossain, Sharif Ahammed and Abdul Bari were awarded death term while SM Yousuf Ali, Shamsul Haque, Abdul Mannan, Harun and Abul Hashem were sentenced to imprisonment for life.

Among the eight convicts, only Ali and Haque are in custody. The others are missing and presumed to be on the run. They were tried and convicted in absentia.

A three-member bench of the special court headed by Justice Anwarul Haque delivered the 289-page verdict in the presence of the two convicted in custody, the Daily Star reported.

The prosecution levelled five charges of murder, abduction, torture, arson and loot, and three of these charges have been proven beyond doubt, the court said in its verdict.

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They were said to have committed murder, abduction, torture, confinement and arson between April 22 and December 11, 1971.

The special tribunal directed the Inspector General of Police and the Home Secretary to arrest the fugitives immediately and seek help from Interpol if necessary.

Prosecution lawyer Tureen Afroz said her team was satisfied with the 100 percent conviction, whereas defence lawyer Gazi M H Tamim said they would appeal against the sentences.

The three-member tribunal bench had tried the eight accused on June 19 and kept the verdict pending.

Ashraf is believed to have fled to India while the rest are on the run in Bangladesh, according to the tribunal’s investigation agency.

According to the agency, Jamalpur and Sherpur were the birthplaces of Al-Badr in Bangladesh.

Ashraf Hossain, along with executed war criminal Muhammad Kamaruzzamann and Kamran—all leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami’s then student wing Islami Chhatra Sangha—organised Al-Badr in greater Mymensingh.

1971 War, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Image source: herald.dawn.com
1971 War, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Image source: herald.dawn.com

Sharif, Mannan, Bari, Harun and Hashem were also involved in Islami Chhatra Sangha and turned into Al-Badr members, the probe agency said.

Sharif was the Director of Islami Bank Bangladesh Ltd between 1987 and 2003 and Executive and Managing Director of Bangladesh Publications Ltd,  which owned the Daily Sangram, between 1999 and 2013.

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Shamsul contested the provincial assembly elections in the 1970s as a Jamaat candidate from Jamalpur but was defeated. Yusuf, also with Jamaat’s ticket, tried for membership in the National Assembly and he too was defeated.

However, Yousuf became a National Assembly member through a “so-called” by-election in 1971, the agency said, adding that the duo, Shamsul and Yusuf patronised Al-Badr in Jamalpur.

On October 26, 2015, the tribunal framed five charges and the prosecution presented 25 witnesses, including the investigation officer of the case, along with some documentary evidence. The defence declined to bring forward any witness, the Daily Star added.

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  • Vrushali Mahajan

    Good that they were punished, but I think this was too early to do that!

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Taliban And The U.S. Set To Meet in UAE

The United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan 17 years ago and the war with the Taliban has since killed nearly 150,000 people, including Afghan civilians

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USA, afghanistan, taliban
U.S. special envoy for peace in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, talks with local reporters at the U.S. embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, Nov. 18, 2018. VOA

A Pakistan-arranged meeting between U.S. and Taliban officials will be held Monday in the United Arab Emirates to push a political settlement to the war in Afghanistan.

The special representative for Afghan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, will lead the U.S. team at the talks in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the gulf state, a senior Pakistani official privy to the development confirmed to VOA on Sunday.

The official, requesting anonymity, said Islamabad has facilitated the dialogue after President Donald Trump wrote to Prime Minister Imran Khan earlier this month seeking his cooperation in bringing the Taliban to the table for peace negotiations.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, in a brief statement sent to VOA, has confirmed participation of its political negotiators in Monday’s meeting with American officials, but said that representatives of the host country, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia will also be in attendance.

Imran Khan, Taliban
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks during a press conference in Putrajaya, Malaysia, Nov. 21, 2018. VOA

Initially, it was Khan who disclosed on Friday that Pakistan-aided talks between U.S. and Taliban officials would take place on December 17, though he would not say where.

The Pakistani prime minister, while speaking in the northwestern city of Peshawar, explained his country has agreed to assist in Afghan peace efforts because Washington has changed its position by requesting help, instead of saying Islamabad is not doing enough, as U.S. leaders have previously insisted.

A spokesperson for the U.S. embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Saturday hailed Khan’s remarks and support for a political reconciliation in the war-ravaged neighboring country.

“The United States welcomes any actions by the Pakistani government to promote greater cooperation, including fostering negotiations between the Taliban, the Afghan government, and other Afghans,” the spokesperson told VOA.

“Special Representative Khalilzad has met, and will continue to meet, with all interested parties, including the Taliban, to support a negotiated settlement to the conflict in Afghanistan,” noted the U.S. embassy official.

taliban, afghanistan
Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanakzai, right, head of the Taliban’s political council in Qatar, takes part in the multilateral peace talks on Afghanistan in Moscow, Nov. 9, 2018. VOA

 

In his speech on Friday, Khan said that if peace were achieved in Afghanistan, his country will be the immediate beneficiary in terms of security, economic stability and regional connectivity.

Khalilzad, is visiting regional countries to gather support for Afghan peace talks. He is 14 days into an 18-day visit to the region and has already visited Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Belgium.

Since taking office in September, the Afghan-born U.S. special envoy has held two meetings with the Taliban in Qatar, where the insurgent group operates its so-called “political office.”

But those talks have been for the sake of talks, say insurgent and Pakistani officials.

Demands, accusations

Pakistani officials privy to Khalilzad’s interaction with the Taliban have told VOA that until now no progress has been achieved because the insurgents adamantly demand “a date or timeframe” for all U.S. and NATO troops to withdraw from Afghanistan before the Taliban decides to participate in an intra-Afghan peace process.

Afghanistan, Taliban
Security forces inspect the site of a deadly blast in the center of Kabul, Afghanistan, Nov. 12, 2018. VOA

 

Washington has long maintained Taliban leaders are sheltering in Pakistan with covert support from the country’s intelligence agency. Washington has been urging Islamabad to use its influence to bring the insurgents to the negotiating table.

Pakistani officials say their influence over the Taliban has significantly declined over the years because the insurgents have gained control over large areas of Afghanistan and continue to pose serious battlefield challenges for U.S.-backed Afghan security forces.

Also Read: U.S. Welcomes Pakistan’s Actions Towards Peace in Afghanistan

The United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan 17 years ago and the war with the Taliban has since killed nearly 150,000 people, including Afghan civilians, security forces, insurgents and more than 2,400 American soldiers, according to an American University study released recently.

The longest war effort in U.S. history has also cost Washington nearly one trillion dollars. The Taliban has expanded its insurgent activities and currently controls or hotly contests about half of Afghanistan. The conflict is said to have killed more Afghan civilians and security forces in 2018 than in any other year. (VOA)