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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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UN Agencies and Bangladesh Government Advances to Prevent Further Deforestation

Dillon says disappearing forests are putting great pressure on the animals in the region.

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A deforested section of the Chakmakul camp for Rohingya refugees clings to a hillside in southern Bangladesh, Feb. 13, 2018. VOA

U.N. agencies and the Bangladesh government have begun distributing liquid petroleum gas stoves in Cox’s Bazar to help prevent further deforestation, which has been accelerating with the huge influx of Rohingya refugees during the past year.

Cox’s Bazar is home to large areas of protected forest and an important wildlife habitat. The arrival of more than 700,000 Rohingya refugees fleeing violence and persecution in Myanmar has put enormous pressure on these precious resources.

U.N. Migration Agency spokesman, Paul Dillon tells VOA, the refugees have been cutting down the trees and clearing land to build makeshift shelters. He says they and many local villagers also rely almost exclusively on firewood to cook their meals.

“Consequently, the forests in that area are being denuded at the rate of roughly four football fields every single day. We are told by the experts at this rate, by 2019 there will be no further forests in that area,” he said.

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Deforestation

Scientists note deforestation has devastating consequences for the environment leading to soil erosion, fewer crops, increased flooding and, most significantly, the loss of habitat for millions of species.

Dillon says disappearing forests are putting great pressure on the animals in the region.

“It interrupts migration pathways and regrettably forces these, sort of, artificial confrontations between animals in the wild and communities as they move into areas that have been logged out often-times in search of arable farmland and that type of thing,” he said.

Also Read: First Satellite Launched by Bangladesh

The project aims to distribute liquid petroleum gas stoves and gas cylinders to around 250,000 families over the coming months. U.N. agencies say the stoves will have additional benefits besides helping to prevent deforestation.

For example, they note smoke from firewood burned in homes and shelters without proper ventilation causes many health problems, especially among women and children who spend much of their time indoors. (VOA)