Bangladesh Charges Islamist Leader of War Crimes

Voice of America, May 28, 2012

The leader of Bangladesh's largest Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami has been charged with war crimes by a special tribunal.

Matiur Rahman Nizami was indicted Monday on 16 charges, including genocide and murder allegedly carried out during the country's 1971 independence struggle against Pakistan.

Another tribunal indicted Abdul Quader Molla, a deputy of Nizami, for his alleged involvement in crimes against humanity.

Bangladesh, formerly known as East Pakistan, won independence in 1971 after a nine-month war with Pakistan. Three million people were killed and hundreds of thousands of women were raped. Rights groups have also alleged "ethnic cleansing" that targeted East Pakistan's Hindu minority.

Jamaat-e-Islami and its ally, the country's main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, have said the ruling Awami League party set up the special war crimes tribunal in order to target political opponents.

New York-based Human Rights Watch has said legal procedures used by the tribunal fall short of international standards.

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