Fugitive death-row convict for 1971 war crimes arrested in Bangladesh
Dhaka: Bangladesh’s security forces have arrested a Jamaat-e-Islami activist who was on the run for a decade and sentenced to death in absentia by a tribunal for committing crimes against humanity during the Liberation War in 1971.
Acting on a tip-off, a team of anti-crime Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) arrested 70-year-old Abu Muslim Mohammad Ali from Demra area on the outskirts of Dhaka on Saturday.
“He was an activist of Jamaat-e-Islami in 1971 during the (1971) Liberation War when he was involved in mass murders, arson, rapes and looting in (northwestern) Gaibandha,” a RAB statement said.
The International Crimes Tribunal sentenced him to death in 2017 after trial in absentia but he went into hiding in 2013 when a legal initiative was launched against him following complaints by one of the victims of atrocities during the Liberation War.
“We have arrested him from a slum-like abode where he was living while keeping a low profile,” RAB’s Lt Colonel Arif Mohiuddin Ahmed said.
Ahmed said Ali was an active member of the Islamic Chhatra Sangha, Jamaat’s then student wing. He never appeared before the tribunal to face justice.
Ali’s arrest came nearly 10 days after RAB arrested two war crimes convicts in separate raids in Dhaka’s Mohammadpur and Mugdha areas.
One of them was Zasisar Rahman Khoka, 69, while the other was Abdul Wahed Mandol of nearly the same age. Both were handed down capital punishment for committing crime against humanity.
On February 1, RAB arrested 70-year-old Abdul Majid from southwestern Madaripur for carrying out atrocities in northeastern Netrokona as an activist of Jamaat, a party which was opposed to Bangladesh’s independence from Pakistan.
All the arrested convicts were on the run, RAB said.
On March 26, 1971, Bangladesh – then East Pakistan – declared its independence from West Pakistan.
According to official figures, Pakistani troops, aided by local collaborators, killed an estimated 3 million people, raped about 200,000 women and forced millions more to leave their homes during the bloody nine-month guerrilla war.
The tribunal has so far delivered over 50 judgments since its formation in 2010 after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government took initiative to bring to justice the key-collaborators and perpetrators of heinous or gruesome crimes during the Liberation War.
Six convicts have been executed after rejection of their appeals, review petitions and clemency petitions.