News / Asia

Bangladesh War Criminal Sentenced to Death

Members of Bangladesh Muktijoddha Sangsad, a welfare association for combatants who fought during the war for independence from Pakistan in 1971, shout slogans after a war crimes tribunal sentenced Abul Kalam Azad to death in Dhaka, January 21, 2013.
Members of Bangladesh Muktijoddha Sangsad, a welfare association for combatants who fought during the war for independence from Pakistan in 1971, shout slogans after a war crimes tribunal sentenced Abul Kalam Azad to death in Dhaka, January 21, 2013.
Gabrielle Paluch
Bangladesh's controversial and scandal-ridden international war crimes court, the International Crimes Tribunal, handed down its first verdict this week, sentencing accused war criminal Abul Kalam Azad to death, in a trial held in absentia. The prosecution of alleged war criminals from Bangladesh’s 1971 war that resulted in the country’s independence.
 
The International Crimes Tribunal-2 sentenced Abul Kalam Azad to death by hanging for genocide, murder, rape and other crimes committed more than 40 years ago during the war against Pakistan.  
 
In hiding

The trial was held in absentia because Azad, a popular Islamic televangelist, has been missing for about a year, since his charges were filed. Azad is believed to have fled the country.
 
While the country’s ruling party, the Awami League, has praised the verdict, critics say the commission has been politically motivated since it was created in 2010.
 
Azad's lawyer, Tajul Islam, who is defending nine accused war criminals, plans to appeal the verdict.  He says the verdict was handed down on unchallenged evidence, and included unwanted comments against Azad’s Jamaat-e-Islami party. He accused the court of ignoring evidence presented by the defense, and called for a new trial.
 
"We have based so many arguments on law and facts that have been totally ignored in this judgment. This collusion of the chairman with the prosecutors and the witnesses, discredits the entire trial process," said Islam. "So, we think that the only option that remains is to hold the trial afresh."   
 
Condemnation

International rights groups have condemned the trial for not adhering to international standards.
 
The Economist magazine recently obtained access to Skype conversations and email exchanges that indicate the court’s chief justice may have been leaking confidential information. Chief Justice Mohammed Nizamul Huq has since resigned.
 
Human Rights Watch's South Asia Analyst Tejshree Thapa says the email correspondences revealed by The Economist completely undermine the court’s independence.
 
Sam Zarifi, the Asia director for the International Commission of Jurists, says the court process has been so flawed, it raises the question of whether it might be best not to have a trial at all.
 
“Proving these charges, charges of crime against humanity, charges of rape as a war crime, charges of genocide, are actually quite complicated and need a lot of evidence and we didn't see those kinds of procedural safeguards at all," explained Zarifi. "This verdict actually doesn't really advance the cause of justice.”
 
He says the court has little hope of helping Bangladesh find reconciliation from the 1971 war, during which some three million people were killed.
 
Opposition sidelined

Despite the international criticism, the trial has been wildly popular among the general population in Bangladesh.
 
It was a key issue in Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s platform. But critics say it has resulted in the marginalization of the political opposition, with leaders detained, driven into exile, or sued.
 
Bangladesh, formerly East Pakistan, became an independent nation after the Liberation war of 1971. The nine-month war started when West Pakistan launched a military operation aimed at deterring the East from declaring independence. Previous attempts to prosecute those responsible for atrocities were thwarted, and many of the accused have fled abroad.
 
Shahriyar Kabir runs a group that has been lobbying for the war crimes tribunal and helps survivors cope with grief. He says the court's verdict has been so popular because everyone in Bangladesh was affected by the 1971 war.
 
"The Bangladesh genocide was ignored by the West, but it was a horrific genocide. Three million people were killed in the period of nine months. Those who committed genocide in 1971, the Islamist bigots, the collaborators of the Pakistani army, they were Jamaat-e-Islami Muslim leaders, they became very powerful in Bangladesh right now,” stated Kabir.

Delivering the verdict this week, Judge Obaidul Hasan said the impunity enjoyed by war criminals has “held back political stability.” There are 11 top opposition leaders accused of war crimes by the court. Nine are from the opposition party Jamaat-e-Islami and the other two from the Bangladesh Nationalist Party.

You May Like

Scotland Vote Raises Questions of International Law

Experts say self-determination, as defined and protected by international law, confined narrowly to independence movements in process of de-colonization More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Annual Military Exercise Takes on New Meaning for Ukraine Troops

Troops from 15 nations participating in annual event, 'Rapid Trident' in western Ukraine More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: morsalin mizan from: dhaka, bangladesh
January 24, 2013 6:27 AM
my father ws a freedom fighter.den i wana say- shame, voa! shame!! ur reporter hs given us lot of wrong information.u dont knw d history of bangladesh.u should know first.den make ur report.


by: MUJIB RAHMAN from: U S A
January 23, 2013 2:15 PM
PRESENT GOV. OF BANGLADESH (AL) IS PUPPET gov. of India.They judicially killing Islam lover leaders in Bangladesh.War crime tribunal of B D politically motivated.


by: prasad from: hyderabad
January 23, 2013 12:35 PM
If any body read the history or if they have faced the atrocities during the Bangla Independence they will know the pain.Saying some thing stupidity is very easy.Will they bring back the lives which are lost in that time? Will they bring back their sisters and brothers? guilty should be punished...they already enjoyed 40 years...it is too late..


by: imad din from: u.s
January 23, 2013 12:16 PM
It is just a lie historian teaching us. India break the the bigger country in 2 pieces and secure its back in case fight with Pakistan so east pakistan will not help them. And look at the stupid muslims are happy to break tie with muslims and very happy to be tied with hindus instead. Astaghfirullah. they forget that they have to die one day and have to face their Allah what they will say there.


by: shamim samad from: dhaka
January 23, 2013 9:28 AM
I am sorry to say that I have read & gone thoroughly of above articles & & I feel pain that most popular news media, human right group, journalist commented on our glories 1971 liberation
war.
Did anybody of you lost your father, mother, brother, sister murdered brutally, did you see your sister, mother wife was raped in front of you by those brutial al-badr, razzakr & their leader was abul kalamm golama azam, mujahid etc.
Only he can realize the pain whom the snake has bitted not other people.

Still now if any 2nd world war Nazi war prison is found he been brought to justice and we the Bangladeshi people also want to see that those war criminal must be brought under justice and be punished what crime they have done on glorious 1971. I am requesting you all to read & watch video of the then World press regarding Bangladesh liberation war.



Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid