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Bangladesh's war crimes tribunal issues first warrants

world Updated: Jul 26, 2010 15:32 IST

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Bangladesh's 1971 war crimes tribunal today issued its first arrest warrants against four top leaders of fundamentalist Jamaat e Islami (JI) who were accused of heinous crimes like genocide, rape and murder in the Liberation war which left an estimated 3 million dead.

"Arrest warrants against four persons" have been issued, chief of the three member tribunal Justice Nizamul Haque said at the first hearing of tribunal since its constitution in March this year under the International Crimes Act 1973.

The four JI chief Motiur Rahman Nizami, its Secretary General Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid and senior
assistant secretaries general Muhammad Qamaruzzaman and Abdul Quader Mollah are already in jail over other charges, including sedition and murder.

The order came a day after a special prosecution panel submitted a petition to the tribunal seeking orders for the
arrested JI bigwigs to be kept in confinement "in the interest of smooth investigation" of charges of 1971 crimes.

"This is a red letter day the court order has reflected the aspirations of the people," chief of the
10 member prosecution team, Golam Arif Tipu, said after the 30 minute hearing of the court, marking the start of
its functioning.

The tribunal set up at the Old High Court complex in central Dhaka, set August 2 for its next hearing and ordered
the prosecution to submit the compliance report of its maiden order on that day.

"It appeared that the four are crucially needed to be kept in confinement as the special investigation agency has
already gathered evidence against the four they were found to be involved in gruesome crimes like genocide, killing,
torture, arson and forcing exodus during the Liberation War," Tipu had said earlier.

He added that a special investigation agency with assistance of the prosecution panel, set up simultaneously along with the International Crimes Tribunal, would probe further into allegations against Nizami and the three others.

The tribunal was set up in line with the ruling Awami League's electoral pledges to try the suspects of the Bengali
speaking people, accused of siding with the Pakistani troops.

JI is widely castigated for opposing Bangladesh's 1971 Liberation War. Nizami and Mujahid had at that time allegedly
led the notorious Al Badr force, which is believed to have slaughtered a number of Bengali intellectuals, including
university professors, days ahead of the December 16, 1971 surrender of the Pakistani troops.