Special war crimes tribunals of the government of Bangladesh on Monday indicted the chief of Bangladesh's largest Islamic party, along with his deputy, for alleged human rights atrocities committed during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War [GlobalSecurity backgrounder] against Pakistan. Matiur Rahman Nizami, the chief of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) [GlobalSecurity backgrounder] party, was indicted on sixteen counts [WP report], including genocide, by the International Crimes Tribunal in Bangladesh (ICTB) [Facebook page]. His deputy, Abdul Quader Molla, was also indicted by a separate arm of the tribunal for alleged war crimes. During the liberation conflict the JI openly opposed splitting from Pakistan, and many of its members have been accused of committing crimes against humanity in collaboration with the Pakistani army. Nizami's trial is set to begin on July, while Molla's trial is set to start on June 20. Both men face a possible death sentence if convicted.
Nizami and Molla are only the two most recent leaders to be arrested and charged with war crimes for their participation in atrocities committed during the 1971 war. Earlier this month Ghulam Azam, former head of the JI party, was indicted [JURIST report] by the ICTB. The tribunal ordered Azam's arrest [JURIST report] in January. In November the ICTB began its first trial [JURIST report] in the 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. Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] last year sent a letter to the Bangladesh government praising its efforts through the ICTB to prosecute war crimes, but urged the government to ensure that the trials are carried out in accordance with international human rights expectations [JURIST report].