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

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Video US Landmark Pushes Endangered Species

People gathered in streets, on rooftops in Manhattan to see image highlights that covered 33 floors of Empire State Building More

World’s Widest Suspension Bridge Being Built Over Bosphorus

Once built, Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge will span 2 kilometers with about 1.5 kilometers over water, and will be longest suspension bridge in world carrying rail system 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.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs