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Bangladesh exploring trial of 1971 war crimes suspects with UN

[JURIST] The government of Bangladesh [JURIST news archive] said Tuesday it is working with the UN to organize war crimes [JURIST news archive] prosecutions for alleged violations stemming from the country's 1971 War of Independence [GlobalSecurity backgrounder] against Pakistan [JURIST news archive] and is considering trial in the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website; JURIST news archive]. Rights group Amnesty International [advocacy website] welcomed the move [press release], which will bring war crimes experts Louis Bickford, Priscilla Hayner, Bogdan Ivanisevic, and Alexander Mayer-Rieckh [professional profiles] — all from the UN Development Programme (UNDP) [official website] — to the government's assistance. UNDP Resident Coordinator Renata Lok Dessallien has discussed proceeding [Daily Star report] under Bangladesh's International Crimes (Tribunal) Act 1973 [text, PDF] with Law Minister Shafique Ahmed [official profile]. State Minister for Liberation War Affairs Tajul Islam said the government would turn to the ICC [Sindh Today report] to prosecute Pakistani military personnel. Any investigation will involve requests for documents from both Pakistan and the US, which supported Pakistan in the conflict.

In March 2008, hundreds of Bangladeshi veterans issued a call for war crimes trials [JURIST report] against those Bangladeshis who assisted Pakistani forces in the war. According to government records, around three million people were killed during the war. Bangladesh has never held trials for war crimes, as earlier governments have said trials would harm national unity. The Bangladeshi government has identified 1,779 war criminals from the 1971 war.

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