Bangladesh to put Jamaat-e-Islami party on trial

Bangladesh plans to change war crimes law to put whole Jamaat-e-Islami party on trial

Bangladesh to put Jamaat-e-Islami party on trial

DHAKA, Bangladesh

Bangladesh’s government has announced plans to put the political Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami on trial for war crimes allegedly committed during the country’s 1971 independence war.

Law minister Anisul Haque said the government is amending the International Crimes Tribunal law so that the whole organization can be put on trial, reported local news website on Tuesday.

The present law only allows individuals, not organizations, to be tried for war crimes and has been used against the majority of the Jamaat-e-Islami’s senior leadership, two of whom have been executed.

Haque said told reporters the draft amendment is awaiting the cabinet’s approval before it goes to parliament.

“It might take a while to get the details of the amended law in hand and also to say what would happen with the Jamaat-e-Islami party if convicted,” said Barrister Turin Afroze, a prosecutor at the tribunal.

The leaders of the Jamaat-e-Islami party strongly supported remaining united with Pakistan during the 1971 war and many of its leaders have been accused of collaborating with the Pakistani army in mass murder, rape, looting and arson.

In 2014, following a High Court order, Bangladesh’s Election Commission banned Jamaat-e-Islami from contesting elections as a political party.

The International Crimes Tribunal was set up in 2009 as a special domestic court to investigate alleged war crimes during the 1971 war.

Though the tribunal has popular support among many in Bangladesh, some opposition parties and international observers have claimed it does not follow fair trial standards and is politically-motivated.