Dhaka Islamist leaders jailed for 1971 `war crimes`

This was first ruling given by Bangladesh`s International Crimes Tribunal.

Dhaka: A tribunal on Monday ordered that four top leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) be jailed in connection with the "war crimes" committed during Bangladesh`s 1971 freedom movement.

This was the first ruling given by Bangladesh`s International Crimes Tribunal that is trying Islamist militants accused of rape, loot and murder of thousands of unarmed civilians in the run-up to the movement that led to separation from Pakistan.

The accused are JeI chief Motiur Rahman Nizami, secretary general Ali Ahsan Muhammad Mojahid and two senior assistant secretary generals Muhammad Kamaruzzaman and Abdul Quader Mollah.

The four are to be kept in jail till further orders as per the tribunal`s ruling, Star Online, the website of The Daily Star, reported on Monday.

During the hearing of the complaint petition, the lawyers for JeI leaders prayed to the tribunal to withdraw the arrest order.

Media reports based on evidence gathered by freedom fighters` organisations say the four leaders led Al Badr, one of the Islamist militia that targeted pro-freedom elements and religious minorities, at the behest of the then East Pakistan authorities.

Beginning its work last month, the tribunal is expected to try an unspecified number of people accused of what are called "war crimes" committed in 1971.

While many have died in the intervening period, others fled to Pakistan and other countries.