Dhaka, Nov 3 — A tribunal in Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka Sunday handed down the death penalty to two non-resident Bangladeshis (NRBs) in absentia for crimes against humanity committed during the country’s war of independence in 1971.
The International Crimes Tribunal (ICT)-2 pronounced the verdict Sunday afternoon on crimes against humanity case, awarding death sentences to Chowdhury Moinuddin and Ashrafuzzaman Khan, who were allegedly leaders of Al-Badar, an auxiliary group of the then Pakistan army, Xinhua reported.
Justice Obaidul Hassan, head judge of ICT-2, announced that all the 11 charges, which include mass killings, murder, genocide and conspiracy to kill intellectuals during the country’s Liberation War in 1971, against Al-Badar leaders were proved beyond reasonable doubt.
The Al-Badar leaders were charged with the murder of 18 intellectuals – nine professors, six journalists and three doctors – at the end of the war.
The three-member panel of the ICT-2 read the summary of the 154-page verdict at a jam-packed court room in the presence of a huge crowd of people, particularly journalists and lawyers, amid tightened security in and around the tribunal.
The war crimes court in June this year had framed the charges against Moinuddin and Khan.
“Ashrafuzzaman Khan is now staying in New York and Chowdhury Moinuddin is living in London,” prosecutor Zeyad Al Malum had earlier told reporters.
After returning to power in January 2009, Bangldadesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the daughter of Bangladesh’s independence hero Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, established the first tribunal in March 2010, almost 40 years after the 1971 fight for independence from Pakistan to castigate those who committed crimes against humanity during the nine-month war.
Since Jan 21 this year, two tribunals dealing with war crimes cases have so far delivered verdicts in eight cases.
Eight current and former leaders of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its key ally Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami party had earlier been sentenced to either death or life imprisonment for crimes against humanity linked to the country’s war of independence.
The Jamaat, which denies any role in war crimes committed by pro-Pakistan militias, has said Hasina’s ruling Bangladesh Awami League party has targeted the party to split the Khaleda Zia-led 18-party main opposition alliance which has been waging a movement to press home its demand for restoration of a non-party caretaker government to oversee the next national elections slated for early 2014.