Two Bangladesh war crimes convicts were today sentenced to death by a special tribunal for committing crimes against humanity during the 1971 Liberation War against Pakistan. Moslem Prodhan and Syed Mohammad Hussain, who is absconding, were sentenced to death by the three-member International Crimes Tribunal for committing atrocities like “genocide, rape and extermination” committed during the war for freedom.
The tribunal led by Justice Anwarul Haque ordered to carry out the execution either hanging by the neck or shooting by a firing squad, whichever the government decides.
The tribunal described as “system crimes” the offences committed by the two convicts, both in their mid 60s.
They were held guilty of six charges, including abductions, tortures, mass murders and genocide, levelled by the prosecution.
Moslem was arrested in July 2015 from Kishoreganj after a warrant was out for him.
The court today instructed the home minister and the Bangladesh Police chief to initiate measures to arrest Hussain.
It asked officials concerned to apprehend Hussain with the help of the Interpol if necessary as he is believed to be hiding in Malaysia.
Both the convicts hailed from northern Kishorganj, where Husain served as local commander of Rajakar Bahini, a Bengali-manned auxiliary force of Pakistani troops, while Prodhan was a member of the local unit.
Describing the court’s decision to recognise wartime rapes equivalent as genocide as a “extraordinary achievement”, Prosecutor Turin Afroze said this is the first instance, where the mass rape in 1971 has been recognised as “genocidal rape” and the highest punishment has been handed for it.
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Defence counsel Abdus Sattar Palwan refrained from commenting saying they respect the law and the tribunal. “The matter of appeal will be decided after discussing it with the client,” he said.
The convicts can appeal against the tribunal’s decision within a month of the verdict.
Bangladesh launched the belated process of trying 1971 war criminals in 2010. All the accused who were tried until now were civilians and mostly belonged to fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami, which was opposed to the independence.
The International Crimes Tribunal, set up for the trying the war criminals, have so far convicted 48 persons, of whom 30 received the death sentence.
The country has so far executed six war crimes convicts, five of them being Jamaat leaders and one of BNP, the main opposition outside parliament.