[JURIST] The International Crimes Tribunal Bangladesh (ICTB) [JURIST news archive] on Wednesday indicted Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) [party website] leader Zahid Hossain Khokon in absentia on war crimes charges stemming from the Bangladesh Liberation War [GlobalSecurity backgrounder] in 1971. The charges include [Daily Star report] genocide, torture, abduction and confinement, coming to a total of 11 charges with involvement in at least 13 counts of war crimes. Serving originally as a Jamaat-e-Islami [party website; GlobalSecurity backgrounder] party supporter before the war, Khokon later became a representative of BNP in Nagarkanda, Bangladesh, eventually winning the mayoral election [BDNews24 report] for the municipality in 2011. Khokon is currently a fugitive believed to be living in Switzerland. The ICTB has set November 3 as the date for prosecution’s opening statement.
Bangladesh has suffered in recent months from a wave of violent protests over war crimes convictions against leaders of the JI party. Last week a member of parliament for the BNP, Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury, was sentenced to death [JURIST report] for war crimes committed during the Liberation War. Last month the Supreme Court of Bangladesh [official website] sentenced [JURIST report] Abdul Quader Mollah, JI assistant secretary general, to death. This overturned a February ruling by the ICTB, which sentenced Mollah to life in prison for crimes committed during the Liberation War. In July Ali Ahsan Mojaheed was found guilty of five charges [JURIST report] by the ICTB, including those of kidnapping and killing a journalist, a music director and a number of other people during the war. Also in July Ghulam Azam, chief of JI in Bangladesh until 2000, was found guilty by the ICTB [JURIST report] of five charges of planning, conspiracy, incitement, complicity and murder during the war.