30 cases under trial at International Crimes Tribunal

International Crimes TribunalFile photo

Some 30 cases are under trial in the International Crimes Tribunal formed for the trial of crime against humanity during the liberation war. The tribunal is also investigating 20 more allegations of crime against humanity against some 20 persons.

According to official documents, some 172 persons have been accused in these 30 cases under trial at the moment. In the meantime, more than 50 appeals from the accused challenging the verdict of the tribunal are pending in the apex court.

The Pakistani rulers unleashed inhumane atrocities on Bengalis, including genocide, rape and torture. Some local agents known as members of Al Badar, Al Shams aided the Pakistani occupying force and were directly involved in the crimes against humanity committed during the liberation war.

The International Crimes Tribunal was formed in 2010 for the trials of these crimes against humanity committed during the war of liberation. The tribunal officially started its journey on 25 March 2010. Today, Monday marks the 14 years of the beginning of the tribunal.

Another tribunal was formed known as Tribunal-2 on 22 March 2012. Later, the two tribunals were merged on 15 September. The trials of crime against humanity are underway in this tribunal (International Crime Tribunal- 1) now. So far, the Tribunal-1 has passed verdicts in 44 cases and Tribunal-2 in 11 cases.

Speaking to Prothom Alo over the phone Sunday, tribunal prosecutor Tapas Kanti Baul said the tribunal has given verdicts in 55 cases so far convicting some 149 accused and 106 of them are death row convicts. Of them, 50 are absconding.

Besides, some 30 cases are under trial at different levels of proceedings in the tribunal at the moment.

According to the investigation wing of the tribunal, some 833 complaints have been registered so far and investigations into 89 cases are finished. Investigative wing coordinator M Sanaul Haque told Prothom Alo that the tribunal also set a great example internationally in terms of trial of crime against humanity. There are also frustrations among the victims with the non-settlement of the appeals of convicts in the High Court and the failure to apprehend the absconding accused.

Appeals await final verdict

According to relevant sources, more than 50 appeals challenging the verdict of the tribunal are still to be heard.

Those who appealed to the High Court include Mobarak Hossain from Brahmanbaria, Mahidur Rahman of Chapainawabganj, Forkan Mallik of Patuakhali, Sirajul Haque and Khan Md Akram Hossain of Bagerhat, Ataur Rahman and Obaidul Haque from Netrakona, Shamsuddin Ahmed of Kishoreganj, Mohibur Rahman alias Boro Mia and Mojibur Rahman alias Angur Mia.

Last January, the appeal filed by death row convict Mobarak Hossain challenging the verdict passed by the tribunal was in the cause list of the Appellate Division. His lawyer SM Shahjahan told Prothom Alo the hearing is still to be started.

Earlier, on 31 October 2019, the Appellate Division upheld the death sentence of Jamaat leader ATM Azharul Islam. He then appealed for a review of the verdict, which is yet to be heard in the Appellate Division, assistant attorney general M Saiful Islam said.

Execution of verdicts

So far, six top level war criminals have been executed following the completion of all the legal procedures. Five of them were top Jamaat leaders and the remaining was a BNP leader. They are – the then Jamaat-e-Islami ameer Matiur Rahman Nizami, secretary general Ali Ahsan Mohammmad Muzahid and assistant secretary general Abdul Quader Molla and Muhammad Kamaruzzaman and central unit member Mir Kashem Ali. Apart from them, the then BNP standing committee member Salauddin Quader Chowdhury was also executed for crimes against humanity during the war of liberation.

The then ‘nayeb-e-ameer’ of Jamaat-e-Islami Delwar Hossain Sayeedi, who was sentenced to life in prison, died while undergoing treatment in jail.

Meanwhile, several convicts died, while their appeals were still under trial, including former Ameer of Jamaat-e-Islami Golam Azam, death row convict Jamaat leader Abdus Subhan and former BNP leader and minister Abdul Alim, who was sentenced to life in prison.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee president Shahriar Kabir said the trial of Jamaat-e-Islami and other parties involved in the atrocities during the liberation should start soon. Besides, initiatives should be taken to bring the Pakistan high command to book. For this, it is necessary to reactivate a second tribunal. At the same time, it is also necessary to appoint adequate justices to settle the appeals of those convicted in cases of crimes against humanity.

*This report appeared on the print and online versions of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Ashish Basu