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Dhaka Tribune

Campaigners unhappy at hints of dissolving one tribunal

Update : 24 Feb 2014, 07:58 PM

Those seeking justice against the alleged war criminals, along with the activists who have been vocal on the issue, have expressed their disappointment following hints from government officials on the possible dissolution of one of the International Crimes Tribunal.

Blaming the government of going slow with the trials by ignoring calls to increase the number of tribunals, activists also urged the government to be more serious about the ICT.

Earlier, Law Minister Anisul Huq, after assuming office, had commented that one tribunal would be enough if there were only a few cases to be tried; a comment which contrasts claims by the investigation agency that it had more than 500 complaints to investigate.

The minister, however, said he was not ready to talk about plans on limiting the number of tribunals, but ensured that the trial of war criminals would continue until the last criminal was alive.

Sources concerned with the trial process said the government had plans to close down one tribunal after the trials of the top-level war criminals ended.

Speaking about the possible move of reducing the number of tribunals, Shahriar Kabir, leader of Ekattorer Ghatok Dalal Nirmul Committee, said media reports on the potential dissolution of a tribunal was disappointing, as it comes at a time when activists were raising voice for more tribunals to expedite the whole trial process.

He also criticised the government for not yet being able to pass any witness protection law, adding that the government should end the trials of local-level collaborators soon, as only the top war crimes suspects have been tried so far.

Referring to the women victims of the Liberation War, Shahriar Kabir said the government had no right to deprive any victim of their justice.

Prosecution sources said the appointment of the new tribunal chairman, M Enayetur Rahim, makes it apparent that the government has backtracked from its earlier decision of reducing the number of tribunals. The trial process may run even faster now, they added. 

Prosecutor AKM Saiful Islam said any decision regarding dissolving the tribunal, when several war crimes cases were ongoing and nine more cases were being prepared to go to the tribunal, may hurt the sentiment of the people who have eagerly been waiting for justice.

Seeking anonymity, a top-level official of the related ministry also said the government had already backed from its previous plan.

Prosecution office documents state that investigations are going on against Mohammad Nasir and Syed Hossain from Kishoreganj, Lahar Ali Shah from Rajshahi, Abdul Jabbar from Pirojpur, Sakhawat Hossain from Jessore, Ataur Rahman Noni from Netrakona, Ashraf Hossain from Jamalpur and Sirajul Islam Master from Bagerhat.

They allegedly acted as collaborators with the Pakistani occupation forces and were involved in different offences in 1971 at different places in the country.

Ten persons were convicted for war crimes by the two tribunals last year. Of the convicts, seven were sentenced to death, while the others were awarded long-term imprisonments. In addition, the verdict against Jamaat-e-Islami ameer Motiur Rahman Nizami is pending at the ICT 1.

In both tribunals, war crime trials are proceeding against seven top suspects including Mir Kashem, ATM Azhar, Syed Kaiser, Mobarak hossain, Jahidul Islam alias Khokon razakar and Abdus Subhan.

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