'Bangladeshi Islamist leader admits role in 1971 war genocide'

Dhaka: Motiur Rahman Nizami, the detained chief of Bangladesh's largest Islamist party, on Thursday admitted his role in forming the "Razakar" and other forces accused of "genocide" during the country's 1971 'Liberation War'.

"I was compelled to do it to save my life as the Pakistani army would have killed me otherwise,? Nizami, the chief of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), was quoted as saying by a official familiar with the investigation process into crimes against humanity during Bangladesh's independence struggle.

Sanaul Haquem, the Coordinator of the special investigation agency, told PTI that Nizami admitted atrocities carried out by the Pakistani troops was actually "genocide".

Jamaat-e-Islami, a crucial ally of opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and several other rightwing groups have been accused of helping the Pakistani military during the war.

On March 25, 2010, the ruling Awami League government set up a special tribunal for the trial of "war criminals" accused of genocide and those who sided with the Pakistani military during the 'Liberation War'.

The high-profile war crime suspect was quizzed under an International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) order as part of the investigations into the alleged crimes committed by Nizami.

However, investigators said they would seek another order from the tribunal to quiz Nizami for at least one more day as he tried to conceal information.

The investigators said Nizami was shown several photographs indicating his involvement in the 1971 crimes.

Nizami is one of the seven high-profile war crime suspects in jail to face charges of "crimes against humanity?. Nizami is among five top leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami who are detained for interrogation.

Earlier reports said that three British lawyers, including one who defended former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, were expected to defend five of the prime suspects.

Bangladesh last year constituted a high-powered three-member ICT to punish those accused of having committed war crimes.

Nizami led the so-called Al-Badr forces, which is widely believed to have been involved in genocide, rape and murder during the period.