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Thursday, March 26, 2009
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War criminal trial under int'l crime act

Decides govt

Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Shafique Ahmed yesterday said the government had decided to try war criminals under the International Crime (Tribunal) Act of 1973 and the investigation, in this regard, had already begun.

Shafique told The Daily Star last night the inter-ministerial meeting on trial of war criminals at the home ministry yesterday approved the decision.

Earlier he said the home ministry sought his opinion on the issue of the trial of war criminals and he gave his opinion in favour of the 1973 Act. Once the home ministry approaches the law ministry, the law minister will initiate to forge the tribunal, he added.

“Prosecutor and investigation agency will be appointed soon to hold the trial immediately,” the law minister said. As per the act the highest punishment for the offence is death penalty.

As per section 6 of the act, a person equivalent to High Court judge or court martial general will head the tribunal. The law minister, however, did not say the number of the tribunals to be formed to hold the trial.

The inter-ministerial meeting on the trial of war criminals was held for the first time nearly two months after a resolution was passed in the parliament unanimously calling on the government to ensure immediate trial of the war criminals.

Home minister Sahara Khatun chaired the meeting which was attended, among others, by State Minister for Home Tanjim Ahmed Sohel Taj, secretaries of the home ministry and liberation war ministry, additional attorney general, inspector general of police (IGP), joint secretary (political) of home ministry and director of national security intelligence (NSI).

The meeting discussed the formation of tribunal to try war criminals, appointment of prosecutor and investigation agency to initiate probe into crimes committed in 1971.

Earlier the government barred suspected war criminals from leaving the country. Sources at the home ministry said a list of war criminals was handed over to the intelligence agencies and the airport authorities.

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The trial must be held and the criminals must be brought to justice as the nation awaits eagerly. We pray to God that justice by established in this land and let the souls of the victims of the war get peace. Govt. must proceed with all precautions and evidences as the criminals will leave no stone unturned to foil this historic challenge.

: Mahbub Habib

There will likely be a serious problem using 1973 Act. for an alleged crime commited in 1971. Logiclly, the crimes may be prosecuted under the existing Acts of the time. The defense could successsfully argue that the new Acts were designed to frame the defendents after the fact, and the courts might find such argument more convincing!

: Rana





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