ICT is currently holding the trial of 33 cases; 23 appeals await disposal at the Supreme Court
The Awami League led government formed the International crimes tribunal (ICT) as a mandate of its election manifesto during the 9th general election.
In the last nine years, the tribunal announced verdicts in 35 cases for crimes against humanity, including genocide.
Six convicted war criminals were made to walk the gallows after completion of the full judicial process up to the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court.
According to records kept by the tribunal’s prosecution team, the tribunal is currently holding the trial of 33 cases, wherein 170 alleged war criminals are accused of collaborating with the Pakistani occupation forces. Most of them belonged to the Razakar, Al-Badr, or Al-Shams forces.
In addition, the investigation agency of the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) is currently conducting probes into 683 complaints of rape, mass murder, loot, arson, forceful conversion, and forceful migration, which were committed by collaborators across the country.
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On the other hand, the tribunal is yet to start the trial of four cases in which the Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, as a party is accused of crimes against humanity during the Liberation War.
Amendments to related laws
"The trial of Jamaat will be conducted after updating the related law," said Law Minister Anisul Haque, on his first day in office, following the formation of the new cabinet earlier in the year.
The existing law for the International Crimes Tribunal Act, 1973, dictates that a trial can be held for an individual person or group.
A member of the prosecution team, Advocate Muklesur Rahman Badal, said: "We want to try Jamaat as a political party for controversial activities during the Liberation War. So it is necessary to update the existing law."
Prosecutor Sabina Yesmin Khan told the Dhaka Tribune: "Liability for crimes of a person or any superior officer are defined in the existing law in sub article 1 and 2 of article 4."
Additionally, 23 cases await appeal hearings at the apex court. When asked, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam told the Dhaka Tribune: "I hope hearings of these appeals will start soon."
'Only one ICT court'
Prosecutor Advocate Moklesur Rahman Badol said: "We had two courts for trials. Now only one court is handling all the cases."
"At the beginning, the accused were politically known people. It is different now. So the media is not that much interested about everyday court procedures."
Shahriar Kabir, president of Forum for Secular Bangladesh and Trial of War Criminals of 1971, popularly known as the Nirmul Committee, said: "I think the government can commence trials of the Jamaat with this law. The Nuremberg Trials also conducted trial for organizations. The ICT can deliver verdicts upon trying Jamaat. But maybe the government does not want to take responsibility. They want to let the court make this decision."
"When Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha was the chief justice he closed one of the courts. Two ICT courts are necessary," he added.
The second tribunal, which was formed by the government in March 2012, is non functional as of September 2015. Only, Tribunal 1 has been functioning since the reconstitution.
The latest verdict was delivered on 5 November in 2018, sentencing fugitives Md Liakat Ali from Habiganj, and Aminul Islam alias Rajab from Kishoreganj, to death for crimes against humanity, including murder and genocide.
According to the prosecution, Liakat was an activist of the Muslim League prior to 1971, while Aminul was a member of its student organization.
Following the verdicts of the ICT tribunals, the apex court of the country has so far disposed off the appeals of seven war criminals. So far, the death sentences of six war criminals have been carried out.