Chairman of B`desh tribunal trying 1971 war suspects resigns

The chairman resigned following a controversy over his reported Skype conversation with an expatriate war crimes expert.

Dhaka: The chairman of a special Bangladeshi tribunal trying high-profile 1971 "war criminals" on Tuesday resigned following a controversy over his reported Skype conversation with an expatriate war crimes expert.

"His (Justice Nizamul Huq) resignation reached to the law ministry through the registrar of the tribunal. He cited `personal reasons for his decision`," Law Secretary Abu Saleh Sheikh Mohammmad Zahirul Haque told reporters.

Haque said the letter would now be forwarded to President Zillur Rahman and if he accepts the resignation a process would be launched to appoint a new chairman to the tribunal.

The International Crimes Tribunal-1 (ICT) Chairman Justice Huq`s decision came days after the Economist magazine allegedly hacked his private conversation with Ahmed Ziauddin, a Brussels-based Bangladeshi-born war crimes expert.

A Bangladeshi pro-opposition newspaper published verbatim the leaked conversation in two subsequent issues.

Law Minister Shafique Ahmed later also confirmed his resignation but said Huq would continue to be a judge of the High Court, where he was serving ahead of his appointment as the chairman of the tribunal.

Lawyers belonging to main opposition BNP and their ally fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami, whose stalwarts are being tried for war crimes charges, earlier demanded his resignation after the Daily Amar Desh published the reported conversation.

On December 5, the tribunal issued a notice on The Economist for "interference" in trial process and "privacy" of the judge and asked for an explanation in three weeks.

The two high-powered courts or tribunals currently try 10 high-profile Bangladeshi suspects of "crimes against humanity" accused of masterminding or carrying atrocities siding with Pakistani troops during 1971 Liberation War.

The tribunal also ordered a simultaneous investigation by police and Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Authority into the hacking of Huq`s conversation with Ziauddin.


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