Step up effort to catch fugitives
With more than half of the war crimes accused remaining fugitives in the cases filed since August 2014, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal has directed law enforcers to intensify their efforts to catch them.
The home boss issued the directive at a meeting with representatives of law enforcement and detective agencies, and the prosecution and the investigation agency of the International Crimes Tribunal at the ministry on Wednesday, sources said.
It was the first time the home minister held such a meeting over war crimes fugitives, they said.
The high-level meeting and the directive came three days after the investigation agency called for amending the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act-1973 by incorporating some new provisions to stop the accused from fleeing.
Despite several directives by the tribunal and initiatives by the government to arrest the war crimes accused, more than half of them still remain free, frustrating justice seekers.
The two war crimes tribunals have issued arrest warrants against 102 war crimes accused in 18 cases since August 2014, but law enforcers have so far arrested only 45, according to The Daily Star reports.
Besides, two war crimes tribunals have so far convicted 24 accused. Of them, five have been convicted in absentia.
Investigators believe that many of the fugitives are holing up inside the country while some have already left the country.
Against this backdrop, the investigation agency at a press conference on December 27 said the ICT Act should be amended to incorporate a new provision so that the tribunals could order attachment of a fugitive's property to force them to surrender.
At the conference it also said law enforcers should carry out simultaneous drives across the country to arrest the war crimes fugitives and the drives should be carried out on a regular basis.
Sources of the Wednesday meeting, requesting anonymity, told The Daily Star that the meeting was convened mainly to discuss issues relating to fugitive war crimes convicts and accused and how they could be arrested and brought back, especially those who were believed to be staying abroad.
“The government has taken the issue [war crimes fugitives] seriously as this is the first time the home minister held such a meeting,” they said.
The investigation agency sought more power to be able to arrest a war crimes accused without warrant so that the agency officials could detain a suspect during the probe, a source said on condition of anonymity.
It also called for amending the law keeping provisions for the security of witnesses, he said.
Despite repeated attempts, The Daily Star could not take any comment from the home boss or the secretary.