US to assist B''desh in war crimes trial: Law Minister

Posted By: Manoj Kumar Ramesh
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Dhaka, Jan 11 (PTI) The US will assist the governmentin the landmark trail of "war criminals" accused of committing"crimes against humanity" during Bangladesh''s 1971 ''LiberationWar'', Law Minister Shafique Ahmed said today.

Ahmed said the US will provide all necessaryassistance to ensure fair and credible trial of "warcriminals" accused of committing "crimes against humanity"during the country''s independence struggle from Pakistan.

Ahmed said this at a briefing after a meeting withStephen J Rapp, US Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues,and James F Moriarty, US Ambassador to Bangladesh, at hisoffice.

"The US war crimes affairs ambassador-at-large hasassured us of providing all sorts of help to ensureinternational standard trial of crimes against humanity andwar crimes," Ahmed was quoted as saying in the media.

According to the Law Minister, the US representativesobserved that the International Crimes Tribunal Act is goodenough to hold fair trial of crimes against humanity, the Staronline, the website of The Daily Star newspaper reported.

However, they recommended amending the rules of thelaw to ensure that the accused get enough time for defense,the minister said.

The minister underlined the government resolve toprotect the rights of the accused so as to maintaininternational standard during the trial.

Rapp said they will hold discussion with the civilsociety members and different sections of the government toplug any loophole in the law so as to get a fair trial for theaccused.

On March 25, 2010, the ruling Awami League governmentset up a special tribunal for the trial of "war criminals"accused of genocide and those who sided with the Pakistanimilitary during the ''Liberation War''.

The security forces have arrested some of the topleaders of the Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), who havebeen accused of "war crimes".

Jamaat, an ally of main opposition BangladeshNationalist Party (BNP) and several other rightwing groups areaccused of siding with the then Pakistani junta in 1971.

Five of Jamaat''s top leaders, including its chiefMotiur Rahman Nizami and Secretary General Ali Ahsan MohammadMojahid, Delwar Hossain Sayeedi, Muhamad Qamaruzzaman andAbdul Kader Mollah have been detained.

Nizami and Mojahid led the so-called Al-Badr forces,which is widely believed to have been involved in genocide,rape and murder of frontline intellectuals in an effort tocripple the emerging nation.

On March 26, 1971, Bangladesh - then East Pakistan -declared its independence from West Pakistan.

According to official figures, Pakistani troops, aidedby local collaborators, killed an estimated 3 million people,raped about 200,000 women and forced millions more to leavetheir homes during the bloody nine-month guerrilla war. PTI

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