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Bangladesh war crimes tribunal begins first trial

The Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal (ICTB) [Facebook page] began its first trial on Sunday for crimes against humanity committed during the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971 [Bangladesh News backgrounder]. The first suspect in this trial is Delwar Hossain Sayedee, a former member of Parliament in the National Assembly of Bangladesh [official website, in Bengali] and one of the leaders of the Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami party [official website, GlobalSecurity backgrounder]. He has been charged with 20 crimes [Hindustan Times report] contained in the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act of 1973 [text, PDF] including genocide, arson, rape and torture. If Sayedee is found guilty, he will face the death penalty. Four other leaders from Sayedee's Jamaat-e-Islami party and two from the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) [official website] are also facing trials in the near future.

The trial is the result of consistent effort and persistence of the ICTB. Last week, ICTB prosecutors filed an application [JURIST report] for formal charges against a former leader who allegedly committed crimes against humanity during the 1971 Liberation War. This application was filed in response to ICTB's request [JURIST report] for a submission of formal charges. However, the trial process faced some concerns when Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] pointed to reports showing threats of violence and arrest against defense lawyers and witnesses. HRW urged Bangladesh to stop such harassment [JURIST report] in order to have a legitimate trial against the accused. The trial was delayed [JURIST report] last month because the defense lawyers asked the court to review the charges against Sayedee. The court accepted 20 out of 31 charges [Al Jazeera report] that were filed [JURIST report] in July by the Bangladesh prosecutors.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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