It 'should be settled' | Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 02, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 04:38 AM, January 02, 2019

It 'should be settled'

War crimes probe agency expresses discontent as Jamaat's trial yet to begin

The investigation agency of the International Crimes Tribunal yesterday expressed discontent as trial of Jamaat-e-Islami as a party did not begin even five years after completion of a probe over its role in 1971.

“My personal opinion is that the matter [trial of Jamaat] should be settled. It [Jamaat] has already lost registration. There are allegations and observations against it. It has been mentioned as a criminal organisation in each judgment,” said Abul Hannan Khan, coordinator of the agency.

“This is also my question why the trial has not started. You better ask the prosecution … We had hurriedly completed our investigation on March 27, 2014. It is now around five years.”

The Election Commission has already done its part by cancelling Jamaat's registration, he said. “So, where is the barrier to try [Jamaat] as a party. We all want it. But I don't know why it is not happening,” he said and asked journalists to find the reason behind it.

At a press conference in the agency's Dhanmondi office, Hannan was revealing the agency's findings in a case against two Habiganj men over their alleged involvement in crimes committed during the Liberation War.

Justice seekers and war crimes victims and their families have long been demanding the trial of Jamaat as a party.

Following the unprecedented Shahbagh movement in February 2013, the government amended the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act-1973 and the agency in August that year launched a probe into the war crimes allegedly committed by Jamaat.

The agency handed over the probe report to the prosecution in March 2014 with a recommendation to ban Jamaat and six other organisations, which were associated with the party in 1971. It found involvement of these anti-liberation bodies in grievous crimes committed during the war.

But the prosecution could not initiate trial of Jamaat as the government did not take initiatives to amend the act.

Trial of an organisation is not possible under the existing law, which does not specify punishment in case the organisation is found guilty of crimes, some experts said.

Meanwhile, the EC in October last year scrapped Jamaat's registration following a High Court verdict that declared the party's registration illegal in August 2013.

APPEALS PENDING WITH SC 

The agency said some 20 appeals over war crimes cases had been pending with the Supreme Court for years.

“Hundreds of cases are now pending with the Appellate Division [of the SC]. The government can attach importance to these [war crimes] cases if it has the scope. We have nothing to do with the matter,” Hannan said.

He said the authorities concerned should take necessary measures to dispose of the cases.

Sanaul Huq, co-coordinator of the agency, said, “Not only as a member of the agency but also as pro-liberation people, we think these cases should be disposed of.

“Both the victims and accused of the cases are elderly people. All of them want to see completion of the trial. We also want to see this.”

The last appeal the apex court heard was of executed Jamaat leader Mir Quasem Ali and the hearing was concluded in February 2016.

Replying to a question about a list that the BNP gave to the media over alleged anti-liberation role of 22 Awami League candidates in 1971, Hannan said they did not get any written complaint against them.

They will look into the matter as it came to the media, he added.

EVIDENCE AGAINST TWO

According to the agency, the two Habiganj men were involved in genocide, killing, abduction, confinement, torture, looting, arson and rape in the district's Baniachang Police Station.

Accused Madhu Mia Talukder, 62, was arrested on May 23 and is now in jail. The agency did not reveal the name of another accused as he was not arrested yet.

Madhu, currently the president of Muradpur union BNP, was involved in the Muslim League and formed a Razakar Bahini named after him in his locality during the Liberation War, the agency said.

After the war, he fled but returned to his locality in 1976 and was elected chairman of Muradpur Union Parishad in the upazila in 2016 with BNP ticket, it said.

The agency will hand over the probe report and other documents to the Chief Prosecutor Office today, said Nur Hossain, investigation officer of the case.

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