Probe finds 19 guilty
The investigation agency of the International Crimes Tribunal yesterday said they found “sufficient evidence” of alleged crimes against humanity committed by 19 Cox's Bazar men, including a former BNP lawmaker, during the Liberation War.
They were allegedly involved in at least 13 incidents of killing, torture of women, arson, looting, forced religious conversion and deportation in Maheshkhali upazila of the district in 1971. At least 94 named and many unnamed people were killed in these incidents, said investigators.
“A total of 19 people have been named accused in the case, highest ever accused in any case related to wartime offences,” Abdul Hannan Khan, coordinator of the agency, told reporters at its Dhanmondi office.
Sanaul Huq, a senior member of the investigation agency, said the investigating officer of the case found involvement of at least 20 people in killing and other atrocities committed in the then Maheshkhali thana, but they implicated 19 in the case as the other suspect died during investigation.
The accused were mainly involved in politics of Muslim League and Nezam-e-Islami, two anti-liberation political parties. They joined Peace Committee, Razakar and Al-Badr after the beginning of the Liberation War, added Sanaul.
He said a Peace Committee was formed on April 30, 1971 in the island thana where Pakistan army and their local collaborators, the accused, committed atrocities mainly between May 1 and 6. “Such a huge scale of atrocities committed within five or six days is very rare.”
Eighteen of the accused are Salamat Ullah Khan, 77, Moulavi Zakaria Sikdar, 78, Md Rashid Miah, 83, Oli Ahmad, 58, Jalal Uddin alias Jalal Ahmed, 63, Moulavi Nurul Islam, 61, Md Saiful alias Sabul, 53, Momtaz Ahmed, 60, Habibur Rahman alias Habib Munshi, 70, Moulavi Amjad Ali, 70, Abdul Majid, 85, Badsha Mia, 73, Osman Gani, 61, Abdus Shukkur, 65, Md Zakaria, 58, Md Jinnah alias Jinnat Ali, 58, Moulavi Jalal, 75, and Abdul Aziz, 68.
Investigators didn't disclose the name of the other accused.
Of the accused, Salamat, Nurul Islam, Badsha, Osman Gani and Jinnat Ali are behind bars while Rashid Miah is on bail for ill health. The rest are on the run.
IDENTITIES OF ACCUSED
According to the agency, Salamat Ullah was a former vice president of Maheshkhali Convention Muslim League and convenor of Maheshkhali Peace Committee in 1971. In 1978, he became the founding president of Cox's Bazar district BNP. He is still involved with BNP as a member.
Moulavi Zakaria was a former president of Maheshkhali unit Nezam-e-Islami and a vice-chairman of the thana Peace Committee in 1971. He contested the Provincial Assembly election in 1970 in the then East Pakistan from Cox's Bazar on Nezam-e-Islami's ticket.
He is now involved with Hefajat-e-Islam, a Qawmi madrasa-based Islamist organisation. The accused went into hiding after the International Crimes Tribunal-2, now inoperative, issued arrest warrants for him and two others in March this year, said the investigation agency.
Rashid Miah was a former president of Maheshkhali Convention Muslim League and another vice-chairman of the upazila Peace Committee in 1971. In 1978, he became vice-president of Cox's Bazar district BNP and was elected as a lawmaker in 1979.
The other accused were also involved either with the Peace Committee or Razakar or Al-Badr in 1971. Most of them are now involved in politics of BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami, found the agency.
The probe in the case opened on May 12 and completed yesterday. Investigation Officer Nurul Islam recorded statements of 126 people, the agency said.
Islam said they handed over the probe report and other documents to the Chief Prosecution Office around 3:00pm yesterday. Prosecutor Rana Dasgupta confirmed receiving the documents.