Dhaka: Bangladesh has said it will begin trial of `war criminals` early next year. Those who killed unarmed civilians during the 1971 freedom movement are called war criminals in Bangladesh.
"I can tell you that the process of the trial of the war criminals would start either by the end of January or in the beginning of February," Law Minister Shafique Ahmed told The Daily Star.
The announcement by Ahmed came as the nation paid homage to its intellectuals, a large number of whom were killed in December that year by bands of Islamist militia in the final stage of the liberation war. The killings took place at the behest of the East Pakistan authorities.
President Mohammed Zillur Rahman and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday paid rich tributes at the Martyred Intellectuals` Memorial at Mirpur, a downtown area in the national capital.
Flanked by her cabinet members, Hasina placed wreaths to pay homage to "the greatest sons of the nation", reported Star Online, website of The Daily Star.
"The first step to start the trial process would be formation of an investigation agency. It will be announced by the end of January or beginning of February and then a prosecution team and a three-member tribunal would be formed and announced immediately," Ahmed told the newspaper.
The government has spent the year garnering international support and changing the existing law to allow a fool-proof process that is seen as credible by the global community.
The government, meanwhile, is awaiting the outcome of the appeals filed for review of the judgment confirming death sentences on a dozen former army officers who killed founding father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and a score of his family members and political associates on August 15, 1975.
Those condemned are entitled to a process of seeking presidential pardon.
The government has a list of alleged "war criminals" that includes top brass of the Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, the country`s largest Islamist party.
The Jamaat leaders deny the charge. But the government says it has evidence.