Bangladesh war crimes tribunal issues arrest warrant for Islamist leader

[JURIST] The International Crimes Tribunal in Bangladesh (ICTB) [Facebook page] on Tuesday granted prosecutors' warrant petition for the arrest of a former leader of the Islamist group Jamaat e Islami (JI) for crimes committed during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War [GlobalSecurity backgrounders]. Prosecutors have accused 64-year-old Abul Kalam Azad, also known as "Bachchu Razakar," of murder, rape, destruction of property and theft during the war, and said that that Azad has threatened witnesses of his alleged crimes [bdnews24 report] to keep them from testifying against him. The ICTB issued the arrest warrant for Azad on Tuesday morning and ordered the Dhaka Metropolitan Police to bring him before the tribunal, but Azad fled from his home and police have been unable to detain him [Banglanews24 report]. Azad is an alleged accomplice of former secretary general Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid, who the was arrested in 2010 [JURIST report] and faces war crimes charges before the ICTB.

Bangladeshi officials established the tribunal [JURIST report] in March 2010 to investigate and prosecute crimes committed in the Bangladesh Liberation War, during which officials estimate that Pakistani soldiers and local militia participated in more than three million killings and 200,000 rapes. The tribunal includes three high court judges and six investigators retired from civilian, law enforcement and military careers. In January, the ICTB ordered the arrest [JURIST report] of Ghulam Azam, 89, for alleged crimes against humanity. Azam, who opposed the independence of Bangladesh and allegedly aided the Pakistani Army during the war, said that the charges were politically motivated. In November the ICTB began its first trial [JURIST report] in a case against Delwar Hossain Sayedee, a former member of Parliament in the National Assembly of Bangladesh [official website, in Bengali] and one of the former leaders of JI. He has been charged with 20 crimes contained in the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act of 1973 [text, PDF] including genocide, arson, rape and torture. If Sayedee is found guilty, he will face the death penalty.

 

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