Bangladesh delays war crimes trial of JI leader
A Bangladesh court Tuesday delayed a verdict against the top leader of an Islamist party charged with war crimes after the defendant became ill.
A special tribunal was set to deliver the verdict for Jamaat-e-Islami chief Motiur Rahman Nizami, who faces 16 charges, including genocide, murder, torture, rape and destruction of property during the nation’s independence war against Pakistan in 1971. The head of a three-judge panel, M. Enayetur Rahim, said a new date for the verdict will not be set until the judges see a detailed medical report on Nizami.
Rahim delayed the verdict after jail authorities told the tribunal that Nizami could not be in the court for the verdict because of his illness.
“We don’t think it will be logical to announce the verdict under current circumstances,” Rahim told a packed courtroom.
The war is still an emotionally charged issue, with Bangladesh saying Pakistani soldiers, aided by local collaborators, killed 3 million people, raped 200,000 women and forced about 10 million people to take shelter in refugee camps in neighboring India during the nine-month war.
That led some, who were demanding the death penalty for Nizami, to say the postponement was “a conspiracy.”
“We will continue to campaign for justice,” said Imran H. Sarkar, who is campaigning for a death sentence. “We will not accept any compromise with the people who killed our people in 1971.”
Thousands of extra security officials had been deployed across Bangladesh ahead of a verdict because of worries it could spark violence as similar court cases have in the past.
There was no immediate comment from the government on the delay. Two special tribunals set up by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to try people for war crimes have delivered nine verdicts in which 10 people have been convicted.