DHAKA: A Bangladesh war crimes court yesterday sentenced a British-based Muslim leader and a US citizen to death in absentia for murder, in the latest ruling over atrocities during the war of independence.
London-based Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin and Ashrafuzzaman Khan, from the United States, were found guilty by the International Crimes Tribunal of 11 charges related to the kidnap and slaughter of 18 intellectuals during the 1971 conflict.
“Justice will not be done if they are not awarded capital punishment,” senior judge Obaidul Hassan told the packed court in Dhaka.
Prosecutors accused the pair, who fled Bangladesh after it gained independence from Pakistan, of being “high command” members of the notorious Al Badr militia that supported Pakistani forces during the war. “They killed top professors, journalists and doctors to make the nation devoid of any talent,” senior prosecutor M K Rahman told reporters outside the court after the ruling.
The pair refused to return to Bangladesh to face trial, but their tribunal-appointed lawyers denied the charges against them. No defence witnesses were called during the trial held earlier this year.
The tribunal has now convicted 10 people, mostly leaders of the country’s largest Islamic party the Jamaat-e-Islami, for war crimes, with seven of them sentenced to death by hanging. At least another eight are on trial.AFP