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Bangladesh's 1971 warcrime suspect freed on bail

world Updated: Apr 01, 2011 20:32 IST
1971 'Liberation War'

A former Bangladeshi lawmaker arrested on charges of crimes against humanity during the country's 1971 'Liberation War' was freed on bail on Friday, a day after a special tribunal ordered his release on health grounds.

Abdul Alim, 80, who was a cabinet minister in the government of former president Ziaur Rahman, has been "released on bail" on orders of the International Crimes Tribunal, an official of Dhaka Central Jail told PTI.

He said Alim's release came a day after the order was issued as the tribunal's directive came late in the afternoon, a time when no prisoner or under trial prisoner could be freed under the Jail Code.

Under the court order, Alim would stay at his son's house at posh Banani area of the capital. He is not allowed contact any politician, political parties or the victims and witnesses in the case, prosecution lawyers have said.

"The suspect will also not issue any media statement, use telephones and must not come out of the house without the tribunal's permission and appear before the court whenever ordered," prosecution lawyer Syed Rezaur Rahman said quoting the bail order of the three-member tribunal headed by Justice Nizamul Huq.

Alim was arrested from his home in northwestern Joypurhat after the tribunal issued a warrant against him.

Television footage and witnesses said Alim appeared in court in a wheelchair with the help of aides and policemen.

Alim's arrest came as prosecution lawyer filed a petition on March 23 saying he had masterminded the killing of more than 10,000 innocent people siding with the Pakistani troops in 1971.

Bangladesh last year constituted a high-powered three-member International Crimes Tribunal headed by a High Court judge along with a special investigation agency and a prosecution cell in line with the election pledges of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's ruling Awami League to bring the war criminals to justice.

So far six high-profile suspects are in jail to face the charges of crimes against humanity while the lone detainee beyond the Jamaat leaders is Salahuddin Qader Chowdhury, a stalwart of ex-premier Khaleda Zia's main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party.