Process of war crime trial kicks off Apr 8: UN experts to visit shortly to assist in investigation

The process of trying war criminals is expected to begin on April 8 with the appointment of an investigation officer and a public prosecutor.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh has accepted a UN offer of sending a team of war crime experts to help Bangladesh try those who were involved in various war crimes during the Liberation War of 1971.

Law ministry officials said the group of UN specialists, having experience in dealing with war crimes that had occurred in different nations, might visit Dhaka shortly.

UN Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh Renata Lok Dessallien put forward the offer at a meeting with Law Minister Shafique Ahmed at his ministry. Home Minister Sahara Khatun was also present at the meeting.

“We have offered Bangladesh to bring here specialists, who deal with the war crime issues, so that the trial process of 1971 war criminals meets international standards,” Renata told reporters after the meeting.

She said mistakes have been made in trials of war crimes earlier in many countries. “The experts will share their experiences here in Bangladesh to avoid the mistakes,” she added terming the process very complex and delicate.

Renata reiterated the UN’s cooperation in holding the trial but said the trial would be of Bangladesh’s own, not the UN’s.

State Minister for Law Quamrul Islam said steps have already been taken so that suspects of war crimes cannot flee the country. He would not say who are on the list of suspects.

An inter-ministerial meeting, scheduled for Wednesday at the home ministry, would discuss the probe and trial issues for the second time since March 25. The meeting may also appoint a public prosecutor.

Once an investigation officer is appointment, law ministry officials said a large team would be formed to initiate investigation into the genocide that took place during the Liberation War. The government has also passed a resolution in parliament paving the way for holding the trial.

“Appointment of an investigation officer is the first step towards kicking off the trial process,” said State Minister for Law Quamrul Islam, adding that the investigation officer would be appointed in Wednesday’s inter-ministerial meeting.

A similar meeting on March 25, however, failed to make any decision regarding the appointment of investigation officer and public prosecutor.

In reply to a question, the state minister said whatever risk is involved the government is committed to holding the trial since it is in Awami League’s election manifesto and people gave the Awami League an overwhelming majority. It has become a national demand, he said.

Source: The Daily Star, 06 April 2009


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