Bangladesh Islamists to counter 1971 `war crimes` charge
Dhaka: Top leaders of Bangladesh`s Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI), who have been detained, have said they will counter the charge of being engaged in targeting unarmed civilians during the 1971 freedom movement.
They have reportedly confessed to allocating Taka 6.6 million ($94,754) for a three-month campaign to counter the charge as government prepares to hold what it calls "war crimes" trial.
Jamaat`s chief Motiur Rahman Nizami, its secretary general Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojahid and deputy chief Delwar Hossain Sayedee told investigators Monday that they have also prepared a list of 50 "war criminals" who are now part of the ruling Awami League.
A 10-member committee headed by a Supreme Court lawyer has prepared the list.
Nizami was the chief of Al-Badar, a militia formed with local collaborators of the then East Pakistan government "to eliminate the intellectuals of Bangladesh", The Daily Star newspaper said Tuesday.
Committed to holding the trial, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina`s government has not fixed a time table for the exercise for which it has sought to garner support from foreign governments and human rights bodies.
The JeI trio was arrested last month following a court order in a case and seven more cases were slapped on them.
The move has angered the opposition. Opposition leader and former prime minister Khaleda Zia has called for immediate release of the three leaders who were part of her government during 2001-06.
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