Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Bangladesh tribunal reject bail of high profile war crimes suspect, send to prison

Photo: Activists demand trial of war crimes of 1971 war of independence
SALEEM SAMAD

BANGLADESH HIGH profile crimes suspect has been send to prison on Wednesday after the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) in capital Dhaka rejected the bail petition.

Amidst tight security, the prime suspect was driven in a prison van to central prison in old city.

Within hours after the arrest of former Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami chief Ghulam Azam from the court premise, the ailing suspect was send to the prison cell of a specialized government hospital for treatment in the afternoon.

Police source could not confirm if Azam had any health-related complaints.

Earlier in the day, Azam who has been indicted on 62 counts appeared before the tribunal in compliance with its order on Monday last for hearing of his bail petition, which was rejected.

His counsel Barrister Abdur Razzaq said in his petition that the bail plea was made solely on compassionate and humanitarian grounds, that his client was almost 90 and suffered from a number of old-age ailments.

The tribunal set Feb.15 for hearing of charges against him for his alleged involvement in crime against humanity during the bloody war of independence of Bangladesh in 1971.

The court room was filled to the brim as the Jamaat guru's hearing began amid palpable tension.

Chief prosecutor Ghulam Arieff Tipoo said this man headed the Jamaat-e-Islami, "which mobilized its forces from one corner of the country to another."

Azam has been blamed for being the linchpin for raising Al-Badar, fanatic Islamic militants responsible for kidnap, disappearance and execution of pro-independence professionals and intellectuals, mostly teachers, doctors, journalists and engineers.

The pro-independence government set up the ICT to try crimes against humanity of dreaded Islamic militants from among his party’s youth members, the lead prosecutor said. The militants on the behest of the marauding Pakistan army caused genocide of an estimated 3 millions, rape of 420 thousand women and the atrocities forced 10 million to flee to neighboring India.

Saleem Samad, an Ashoka Fellow is an award winning investigative journalist based in Bangladesh. He specializes on Islamic terrorism, forced migration, good governance and elective democracy. He has recently returned from exile from Canada after return of democracy. He could be reached at saleemsamad@hotmail.com