War Crimes Trial Begins in Bangladesh

Posted November 21st, 2011 at 10:25 am (UTC-5)
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The first war crimes trial stemming from Bangladesh's 1971 war for independence from Pakistan has begun.

The trial of Delwar Hossain Sayedee, a senior leader in the opposition Islamic Jamaat-e-Islami party, got under way Sunday in the capital, Dhaka.

Among the charges against Sayedee are crimes against humanity, genocide, rape and murder. If found guilty, the 71-year-old Sayedee could be hanged.

Sayedee is among seven senior Bangladeshi politicians charged with war crimes during the violent nine-month struggle that led to the country's independence from Pakistan.

All seven belong to opposition groups. They have maintained their innocence and accuse the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of carrying out a political vendetta against them.

Human Rights Watch says defense lawyers and witnesses have reported being harassed by state officials and the police. The rights group says the court's legal procedures fall short of international standards.

Bangladesh's International Crimes Tribunal is a domestic court, set up without United Nations oversight or involvement.