Bangladesh charges Islamic party leader with “war crimes”

Court officials said Sayedi was the first to be formally charged with war crimes, and others will be charged soon.

A court in Bangladesh on Monday charged Moulana Delwar Hossain Sayedi, a leader of opposition Islamic party Jamaat-e-Islami, with war crimes in the country’s 1971 war of independence.

If found guilty, Sayedi, 71, could face death by hanging. Sayedi, who was at the court, denied the allegations. “I committed no crime,” he said.

Jamaat, Bangladesh’s biggest Islamic political party, opposed Bangladesh’s independence from Pakistan and fought with the Pakistani army in what was then East Pakistan, now Bangladesh.

Dozens of other Jamaat leaders including its chief Moulana Motiur Rahman Nizami and secretary-general Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid are already in prison, accused of war crimes.

Court officials said Sayedi was the first to be formally charged with war crimes, and others will be charged soon.

A war crimes tribunal set up last year wants to wrap up investigations into all those accused, as the government aims to finish their trials before Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s five-year term in power ends. She took office in early 2009.

Jamaat and its close ally the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party alleges that the tribunal takes orders from the government.

“The charges against Sayedi are untrue and politically motivated,” defence lawyer Tajul Islam told reporters.

Agencies

 

 

03 October 2011 Monday