Wednesday, April 18, 2012

British Muslim leader faces war crimes charges in Bangladesh over murders during country's independence struggle

• Mueen-Uddin allegedly linked to crimes during 1970s• Faces death sentence if convicted

IAN GARLAND

One of Britain’s top Muslim activists is facing war crimes charges in Bangladesh.

Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin, the director of Muslim spiritual care provision in the NHS and a trustee of the charity Muslim Aid, is accused of involvement in the abduction and murder of ‘intellectuals’ during Bangladesh’s struggle for independence in the 1970s.

Mr Mueen-Uddin has denied any involvement in the crimes he has been allegedly linked with - but faces the death penalty if convicted.

Mr Mueen-Uddin moved to Britain from Bangladesh in the early 1970s and has since become a British citizen and forged a successful career as a community activist and Muslim leader.

In 1989 he was a key figure in the protests against Salman Rushdie controversial book, The Satanic Verses.

And he was photographed with Prince Charles when the heir visited a Islamic centre in Leicester in 2003.

In the early 1970s, before he moved to Britain, Mr Mueen-Uddin was a member of Jamaat-e-Islami, a fundamentalist party that supported Pakistan during Bangladesh’s fight for independence.

As it became clear Pakistan was losing the war, a number of prominent Bangladeshi citizens were rounded up and killed by a militia - a bid to deprive the new state of its intellectual elite.

Mohammad Abdul Hannan Khan, the chief investigator for the country’s International Crimes Tribunal, claims to have evidence Mr Mureen-Uddin was involved in the militia.

He told the Telegraph: ‘There is prima facie evidence of Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin being involved in a series of killings of intellectuals.

‘We have made substantial progress in the case against him. There is no chance that he will not be indicted and prosecuted. We expect charges in June.’

The evidence includes the testimony of the widows of those who disappeared - including Dolly Chaudhury, who claims Mr Mueen-Uddin was one of three men who abducted her scholar husband Mufazzal Haider Chaudhury, on 14 December 1971.

Another member of the group who was caught allegedly gave Mr Mueen-Uddin’s name in his confession.

Mr Mueen-Uddin claimed the charges were entirely politically motivated.


His lawyer Toby Cadman told the Daily Telegraph: ‘No formal allegations have been put to Mr Mueen-Uddin and therefore it is not appropriate to issue any formal response.


‘Any and all allegations that Mr Mueen-Uddin committed or participated in any criminal conduct during the Liberation War of 1971 that have been put in the past will continue to be strongly denied in their entirety.’

First published The Mail Online, London, Britain, 15 April 2012