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Friday, February 3, 2012
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Vote of trust for war trial

EU Parliament member hails Bangladesh's effort

European Parliament Member Jean Lambert has welcomed Bangladesh's efforts to try war criminals and said he expected that the trial would conform to the highest standard possible.

She said she was aware of the open trial with the right to appeal by the accused and that Bangladesh had ratified the Rome statute.

Lambert of the UK Green Party on January 31 presided over a session of Euro-parliamentarians responsible for policymaking towards South Asia. On the day, they held a hearing at the European Parliament in Brussels on the ongoing trial of crimes against humanity committed during the 1971 Liberation War in Bangladesh.

The Netherlands-based International Committee for Democracy in Bangladesh and the diaspora and development groups organised the hearing. Members of different non-government and human rights organisations from Europe, the Maldives, Sri Lanka and Nepal attended the session.

Lambert said the war began with Pakistani military operation in the night of March 25, 1971.

In the nine-month long bloody war, an estimated three million people were killed in genocide, arson, rape and other heinous acts.

A delegation of human rights campaigners from Bangladesh-- journalist Shahriar Kabir, barrister Tureen Afroz, and Zead-Al-Malum, a prosecutor of the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) -- attended the hearing.

Peter Custers, president of International Committee for Democracy in Bangladesh, reminded that the EU had passed at least three resolutions supporting the war crimes trial. He said he hoped that the EU would continue its support.

Shahriar Kabir spoke of the occupying Pakistani military's ruthless atrocities against Bangalee people with the assistance of Jamaat-e-Islami at the time of the Liberation War and appealed to the EU to recognise the atrocities as genocide.

Tureen Afroz said the ICT was facing international conspiracy by certain quarters to discredit its legislation and process. She made a passionate plea for justice for the victims of rape and gender violence.

Zead-Al-Malum thanked the EU for its continued support and offered help in any follow-up by the EU.

Jean Lambert then invited defense counsel Toby Cadman who said he did not oppose the trial nor was a part of any international conspiracy to obstruct the trial, but felt that the 1973 act-- under which the ICT was conducting trial-- in parts did not meet international standard and therefore was needed to be amended.

Bangladesh's Embassador Ismat Jahan said the incumbent government had reviewed and amended the act to meet the universal standard by ensuring right to appeal by the accused and allowing international observers.

She said the trial should not be seen as a vendetta and was not politically motivated, rather it was to discourage the culture of impunity and to strengthen democracy.

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