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Media block on 1971 Bangladesh genocide trial

world Updated: May 25, 2011 11:39 IST

The Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal trying islamists, accused of collaborating with authorities in erstwhile Pakistan during the 1971 freedom movement, has restrained police and counsel from divulging details to the media.

The tribunal on Tuesday instructed the counsel and investigators involved in the trial process to refrain from revealing information discovered during the ongoing process, to the media.

The three man panel rejected a petition filed by Jamaat-e-Islami Ameer (chief) Motiur Rahman Nizami seeking suspension of statements which he had made to investigators during interrogation.

Nizami, heading the country’s largest Islamist party, has been in jail along with five others of his party’s top brass. They have been accused of leading a militia that targeted unarmed civilians in the run up to Bangladesh’s liberation in December 1971.

The charges, called “war crimes”, would be framed after the investigations are over.

A former minister during 2001-06, Nizami was interrogated at a safe house on May 5.

He petitioned the tribunal against the investigator, M Sanaullah Huq, for speaking to the media about his depositions. Haq had disclosed statements and information provided by Nizami to him during the questioning to the media.

Media reports have said Nizami, as also other accused, had regretted the ‘genocide’ - Dhaka says three million people perished in 1971. They claimed that they played no role in it.

Rejecting Nizami’s petitions, the tribunal restrained both the investigators and the lawyers of the accused to give details of the depositions to the media, save the basic proceedings.