2 Bangladeshi war criminals to spend life in jail

DHAKA (TIP): A special tribunal in Bangladesh today sentenced two men, including an 84-year-old, to prison for the rest of their natural lives for committing war crimes and siding with the enemy during the country’s 1971 liberation war against Pakistan.

Chairman of the three-judge International Crimes Tribunal-2 of Bangladesh, Justice Obaidul Hassan delivered the verdict saying, the panel found Mahidur Rahman, and Afsar Hossain Chutu, 65, guilty of “killing, abduction and torture” as the duo appeared in the dock.

“They be convicted and condemned to the sentences of imprisonment for life till death under section 20(2) of the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act of 1973,” pronounced Hassan after their trial which began in January this year, three months after the two were arrested from their home in northwestern Chapai Nawabganj.

According to the charges, as activists of the then Muslim League, which was opposed to the country’s 1971 independence from Pakistan, the two joined the the notorious ‘Razakars’, a force manned by Bengali-speaking collaborators and raised as an auxiliary unit to support invading Pakistani troops. Counsels of the convicts said they planned to challenge the verdict in the appellate division of the Supreme Court as the “judgement appeared unfair”.

This was the 18th verdict delivered by the country’s two high-powered war crimes tribunals since Bangladesh initiated the trials of the alleged war criminals in 2010. But the duo may be the first ordinary Razakars as other convicts were high-profile leaders mostly from the fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami which played a pivotal role in forming auxiliary forces for the Pakistani army.

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