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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

  • 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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