Kerry calls Hasina

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US Secretary of State John Kerry today telephoned Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the wake of a government move to execute death row war criminal Jamaat-e-Islami leader Abdul Quader Mollah.

According to well-placed sources, the US top official gave a message to Hasina that the execution of the Jamaat assistant secretary general might lead to events which could derail the parliamentary election.

Briefing newsmen at Gono Bhaban this afternoon, Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury, information affairs adviser to the premier, said Kerry wanted to know the trial procedures at the International Crimes Tribunal. He said the PM in her reply said there is freedom of judiciary in the country and all the procedures of trial would be followed.

The call, which came in the morning hours before the Supreme Court was scheduled to hold hearing on Mollah’s petition for reviewing his sentence, was intended to convey the United States’ worry about the current political events.

“I can confirm Secretary Kerry spoke with Sheikh Hasina today about current events in Bangladesh,” US Embassy Spokesperson Kelly McCarthy said when The Daily Star contacted her for confirmation of the call.

Asked specifically whether the Secretary of State called to talk about Mollah’s execution, the embassy spokesperson reiterated their position on war crimes trial.

“Before any sentence is carried out, it is essential that the process itself stands up to international standards,” she said.

She pointed out that the US said at the time of the first verdict in Bangladesh’s International Crimes Tribunal (ICT), it supports bringing to justice those who committed atrocities in the 1971 Liberation War.

“We believe that the trials should be fair and transparent, and in accordance with international standards Bangladesh has agreed to uphold through its ratification of international agreements, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”

She also referred to the statement of Ambassador-at-Large Stephen Rapp, Office of Global Criminal Justice, made during media interview earlier this year when he said that countries that impose a death penalty must do so with great care, “in accordance with a very high standard of due process and respect for fair trial guarantees”.

Sources at the Prime Minister’s Office said Kerry and Hasina talked for a few minutes.

The US secretary of state welcomed a dialogue between the ruling and opposition parties, which began yesterday under the mediation of the United Nation, according to the PMO sources.

Kerry expressed concern over the continuing violence and loss of lives and public properties, added the sources.

Earlier on September 9, Kerry conveyed his concerns about Bangladesh situation as the country was heading towards violent political face-off due to disagreement between the two major political blocs.

He wrote separate letters to the PM and opposition leader Khaleda Zia expressing his country’s concerns over the political crisis and urged them for a constructive dialogue regarding an election-time government.

Source: The Daily Star