In a unanimous decision rendered Thursday by the three-member International Crimes Tribunal of Bangladesh, one person was acquitted, three persons were sentenced to imprisonment till death and five were sentenced to 20 years in prison for committing crimes against humanity during the 1971 Liberation War. The court found each of the eight persons guilty of the crimes in at least one of the four charges against them.
The International Crimes Tribunal was set up in Bangladesh in 2009 to prosecute persons involved in the 1971 genocide committed by the Pakistan Army and its local allies during the Bangladesh Liberation War that led to establishment of Bangladesh as a county separate from Pakistan.
Md. Shamsuzzaman, AFM Faizulla and Md. Abdur Razzak Mondol were sentenced to imprisonment till death, and Md. Khalilur Rahman Mir, Md. Abdullah, Md. Rois Uddin Azadi, Md. Alim Uddin Khan and Sirajul Islam were sentenced to 20 years in prison. Md. Abdul Latif, who was a minor in 1971, was acquitted of the two charges against him, as it could not be proved that he had the intent to participate in or facilitate the attack against civilians. Among the 42 cases tried by the tribunal to date, this is the first time that an accused has been acquitted.
The crimes were committed in the Gafargaon administrative region of the Mymensingh division of Bangladesh. The accused belong to different villages in the region and joined Razakar Bahini, a paramilitary force organized by Pakistani occupation forces that opposed the liberation of what was then East Pakistan.
Investigation of the 11 original accused began in October 2014. Two of them died after the framing of charges in March 2018. Consequently, the proceedings continued against nine persons, five of whom were already in jail and four were absconding. The nine accused persons were charged for “actively participating, facilitating, abetting and substantially contributing to the commission of the offence of ‘abduction’, ‘confinement’, ‘looting’, ‘arson’ and ‘murder’ as crimes against humanity” provided in the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act, 1973. The trial concluded in January last year.
The convicted persons plan to appeal the judgment.