War heroes ask govt to scrap provision favouring convicts
The provision for war-crimes convicts to appeal to the Supreme Court against their conviction should be cancelled, said Air Vice-Marshal (retd) AK Khandaker, Sector Commanders Forum chairman, yesterday.
“I will suggest the government scrap this provision, if possible,” he said, adding, “As far as I know, other countries, where war crimes trials were conducted, did not give this scope to war criminals. I do not understand why our government has given this opportunity.”
The International Crimes Tribunal Act allows war crimes convicts to appeal to the Supreme Court Appellate Division against their sentences.
Khandaker, also the planning minister, was presiding over a roundtable styled “Trial of war criminals-advancement and problems” organised by the Sector Commanders Forum, Liberation War-71, at Dhaka Reporters’ Unity.
About the pace of the ongoing trials, he said, “If the government cannot complete war crimes trial before its tenure end, and the government fail to get into power the next time…it would be disastrous for the nation.”
He said foreign lobbyists appointed by war criminals were conducting propaganda against the war-crimes trial across the world. “We should launch a campaign against this propaganda through our high commissions,” he said.
Addressing the function as a special guest, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Chairman Prof Mizanur Rahman urged the government to identify and remove Jamaat-Shibir men infiltrating into the administration, so that the war crimes trial does not have to face any hurdles.
Referring to the incident of war crimes suspect Abul Kalam Azad, widely known as Bachchu Razakar, fleeing, Prof Mizanur said, “I want to ask the home minister why she is spending time, money and manpower behind innocent Limon? When you were busy with Limon, Bachchu Razakar fled, but your law enforcers could not arrest him.”
Limon was maimed in Rab firing.
“What was your [home minister's] force doing? Why don’t you take actions against them? Why don’t you identify those who helped Bacchu Razakar flee?” Prof Mizanur said.
Soon after the tribunal issued arrest warrant against Bachchu Razakar, he slipped out into India through Dinajpur border on April 2, as per a Rapid Action Battalion statement on April 9.
Prof Mizanur also observed that unlike the defence, the prosecution and the investigation team assigned to deal with the war-crimes cases appear before the tribunal with inadequate preparation and homework done.
“If we do not have preparation, will the trial be done through political loud talk? Will the trial be fair? Will people across the world believe us for our words?” he said.
He said the tribunals were showing a lot of generosity towards the suspects and emphasised the need for enacting the victim-witness protection act immediately.
Ghulam Arieff Tipoo, chief prosecutor of the prosecution team at the tribunal, said trial of at least three or four war criminals would be done by this year.
Sector Commanders Forum Acting Secretary General Harun Habib, Chief Investigator of war crimes investigation agency Mohammad Abdul Hannan Khan, Communist Party of Bangladesh Presidium Member Haider Akbar Khan Rono, Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh (HRPB) President Manzill Morshed, Liberation War Museum Trustee Sarwar Ali also spoke on the occasion.