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Sunday, February 17, 2013
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No clemency for war criminals

Nirmul Committee demands amendment to constitution

Ekattorer Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee yesterday demanded that the government amend the constitution to disqualify war criminals for presidential clemency.

The organisation reiterated its demand of trying Jamaat-e-Islami, Peace Committee, Razakar, Al-Badr and Al-Shams as organisations and forces for their involvement in genocide and other crimes committed during the Liberation War.

Nirmul Committee, which works for elimination of the killers and collaborators of 1971, came up with the demands at a press conference at BILIA Auditorium.

Shahriar Kabir, acting president of the committee, urged the government to amend article 49 of the constitution to add a section so that convicted war criminals would not get presidential mercy.

According to article 49, “The president shall have the power to grant pardons, reprieves and respites and to remit, suspend or commute any sentence passed by any court, tribunal or other authority.”

Justice Syed Amirul Islam, adviser to the committee, said genocide and crimes against humanity are grievous offences as per international laws and no country can pardon such offenders as per the Vienna Convention, 1986.

He added that Bangladesh should show respect to such international laws and convention as per the constitution.

Citing examples from the Nuremberg Tribunal in Germany, Shahriar, also an eminent war crimes researcher, said the tribunal was formed to try the Nazi war criminals of the World War II, whereas trials of seven Nazi organisations were also held alongside the Nazi leaders.

“We demanded that the government file cases with the international crimes tribunals at Dhaka against Jamaat and its associate killer forces immediately,” he added.

“It wouldn't be possible to stop reoccurrence of genocide and killings of intellectuals if the political party [Jamaat] committing genocide [in 1971] is not banned,” he said.

The veteran journalist further said many eyewitnesses and victims retreated from testifying upon receiving threats from Jamaat men.

He demanded enactment of a witness protection act to ensure security of the witnesses of the war crimes cases and ensure proper manpower and other requirements of the tribunals.

Committee leaders Prof Muntassir Mamoon, Ferdousi Priyabhashini, Kazi Mukul, among others, were present at the press conference.

The government formed the International Crimes Tribunal on March 25, 2010 to try the war criminals of the nine-month-long war. On March 22, 2012, a second tribunal was formed to expedite the trials.

The tribunals have so far delivered two verdicts, while seven other Jamaat and BNP leaders are facing trial.

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