Bangladesh War Crimes Tribunal Indicts Islamic Leader

Posted October 3rd, 2011 at 10:10 am (UTC-5)
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A special court in Bangladesh has charged an Islamic leader with committing war crimes during the country's 1971 war of independence from Pakistan.

The tribunal in Dhaka Monday indicted 71-year-old Delwar Hossain Sayedee on 20 counts of murder, rape, looting, arson and forcibly converting Hindus to Islam.

Sayedee, a senior leader of Bangladesh's Jamaat-e-Islami party, is accused of killing at least 50 people during his alleged collaboration with Pakistan's army during the country's war of independence. Four other Jamaat leaders are facing similar charges.

If found guilty, Sayedee faces death by hanging. During Monday's hearing, the Jamaat leader told court that he did not commit any crimes.

Bangladesh, formerly known as East Pakistan, won its independence in 1971 after a nine-month war with Pakistan. Three million people were killed and hundreds of thousands of women were raped. Rights groups have also alleged “ethnic cleansing” that targeted East Pakistan's Hindu minority.

Jamaat-e-Islami and its ally, the country's main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, have said the ruling Awami League party's establishment of a special war crimes tribunal is aimed at targeting political opponents.

New York-based Human Rights Watch has called for changes to the tribunal to ensure that suspects are ensured a fair trial that meets international standards.

Sayedee's trial is set to begin on October 30.