Thursday, August 26, 2010

Investigations into Sayedee and Gholam Azam

Over the last couple of weeks there has been some press reports about investigations taking place into two men - Sayedee and Gholam Azam - by the Tribunal's investigation team.

Delwar Hossain Sayedee, a senior Jamaat-e-Islami leader, is currently in detention in relation to non-1971 related crimes - though the Tribunal has sought a 'production warrant' against him. A previous blog explains the allegations on which the court issued the production warrant (two separate First Information Reports (FIR) were initially lodged at two police stations, and were recently transferred to the Tribunal.) Sayedee has not however been able to be presented to the Tribunal - first time because he was ill (10 Aug) and then subsequently because the court was under refurbishment (24 Aug). He is now due in court on 21 Sept.

A three-member investigation committee headed by assistant police superintendent Mohammad Helal Uddin is reported to have gone on 18 August to Badura village in Sadar Upazila in Pirojpur to record witness accounts. Police inspectors Mohammad Obaidullah and Nur Hossain were also present.

Uddin told reporters that they had recorded 12 statements of witnesses under section 161 of the Criminal Procedural Code (see extract at end of this post) at Rajlakkhi High School and College auditorium at Parerhat Bandar. One of the witness statement taken was commander Mahabubul Alam, a freedom-fighter. reported that the witnesses had told the police that Sayedee and his associates took away businessman Madan Saha Malakar and 13 others Hindus from Parerhat Bandar, Indurkani and from other areas to the Pakistani camp at Pirojpur. It was alleged that these people were later shot dead at the old landing station of Boleswar River.

It was also reported by witnesses that Mozahar Mallick, Danesh Mollah, Moslem Mawlana were among Sayedee's prime associates during the independence war.

Freedom-fighter Ruhul Amin is also said to have told the investigators that Sayedee had looted the residence of Madan Saha and have stolen Madan's wooden-house, worth around Tk 2-3 million for use by his in-law's.

After the two day inquiries Uddin is reported to have said, "We have got much new information from the field work, which we did not find anywhere, not even on the case documents."

Golam Azam has now retired from politics - though since he was head of the Jamaat=e-Islami during the 1971 war he is a crucial character.

It was reported on Aug 22 that Tribunal investigators - led by additional police superintendent Matiur Rahman - arrived in Brahmanbaria to investigate the murders of Shiru Mia and his son during 1971 war. The two other members of the team were Shyamal Chowdhury and Probir Bhattacharya.

Golam's ancestral home is in Nabinagar Upazila of Brahmanbaria district

Rahman told reporters "Rajakars and Al Badars killed Shiru Mia and his 14-year old son in broad daylight claiming them to be miscreants." He said that primary proof about the alleged crimes was found, but did not elaborate.

Links War crimes trial against Sayedee launched, 18 Aug 2010 Probe team ends field work in Sayedee case, 20 Aug 2010 Police starts Ghulam Azam investigation, 23 August 2010

Powers of Police to take statements
The investigation powers of the investigation officers, established under the International Crimes (Tribunal) Act 1973 are set out in section 8 of the Act. This states:

(1) The Government may establish an Agency for the purposes of investigation into crimes specified in section 3; and any officer belonging to the Agency shall have the right to assist the prosecution during the trial.
(2) Any person appointed as a Prosecutor is competent to act as an Investigation Officer and the provisions relating to investigation shall apply to such Prosecutor.
(3) Any Investigation Officer making an investigation under this Act may, by order in writing, require the attendance before himself of any person who appears to be acquainted with the circumstances of the case; and such person shall attend as so required.
(4) Any Investigation Officer making an investigation under this Act may examine orally any person who appears to be acquainted with the facts and circumstances of the case.
(5) Such person shall be bound to answer all questions put to him by an Investigation Officer and shall not be excused from answering any question on the ground that the answer to such question will criminate, or may tend directly or indirectly to criminate, such person: Provided that no such answer, which a person shall be compelled to give, shall subject him to any arrest or prosecution, or be proved against him in any criminal proceeding.
(6) The Investigation Officer may reduce into writing any statement made to him in the course of examination under this section.
(7) Any person who fails to appear before an Investigation Officer for the purpose of examination or refuses to answer the questions put to him by such Investigation Officer shall be punished with simple imprisonment which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to Taka two thousand, or with both.
(8) Any Magistrate of the first class may take cognizance of an offence punishable under sub-section (7) upon a complaint in writing by an Investigation Officer.
(9) Any investigation done into the crimes specified in section 3 shall be deemed to have been done under the provisions of this Act
(This procedure is similiar to that set down in section 161 of the Code of Criminal Procedure)

Section 5 and section 7 are somewhat contentious - as they place a compulsion on witnesses to give statements, including providing information that may incriminate themselves (though it cant be used as evidence against him). This issue will be discussed in a separate post.

There is no suggestion that the statements given to the police in the Sayedee/Azam's investigation were anything other than voluntary.

In the news report, it was mentioned that the statements were taken under section 161 the Code of Criminal Procedure 1898. This and section 162 are set out below (though it should be noted that the Code of Criminal Procedure, does not formally to the 1973 Act).
Examination of witnessed by police.- (1) Any police-officer making an investigation under this Chapter or any police-officer not below such rank as the Government may, by general or special order, prescribe in this behalf, acting on the requisition of such officer may examine orally any person supposed to be acquainted with the facts and circumstances of the case.
(2) Such person shall be bound to answer all questions relating to such case put to him by such officer, other-than questions the answers to which would have a tendency to expose him to a criminal charge or to a penalty or forfeiture.
(3) The police-officer may reduce into writing any statement made to him in the course of an examination under this section, and if he does so he shall make a separate record of the statement of each such person whose statement he records.

Statements to police not to be signed; use of such statements in evidence.- (1) No statement made by any person to a police officer in the course of an investigation under this Chapter shall, if reduced into writing, be signed by the person making it; nor shall any such statement or any record thereof, whether in a police-diary or otherwise, or any part of such statement or record, be used for any purpose (save as hereinafter provided) at any inquiry or trial in respect of any offence under investigation at the time when such statement was made:
Provided that, when any witness is called for the prosecution in such inquiry or trial whose statement has been reduced into writing as aforesaid, the Court shall on the request of the accused, refer to such writing and direct that the accused be furnished with a coy thereof, in order that any part of such statement, if duly proved, may be used to contradict such witness in the manner prescribed by section 145 of the Evidence Act, 1872. When any part of such statement is so used,any part thereof may also be used in the re-examination of such witness, but for the purpose only of explaining any matter referred to in his cross-examination:

Provided further that, if the Court is of opinion that any part of any such statement is not relevant to the subject-matter of the inquiry or trial or that its disclosure to the accused is not essential in the interests of justice and is inexpedient in the public interests, it shall record such opinion (but not the reasons therefore)and shall exclude such part from the copy of the statement furnished to the accused.
(2) Nothing in this section shall be deemed to apply to any statement falling within the provisions of section 32, clause (l), of the Evidence Act, 1872 or to affect the provisions of section 27 of that Act.

[Section 32 of Evidence Act relates to statements of a dying person, and section 27 relates to confession of accused in custody)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Withdrawal of First Amendment challenge

Well the proceedings today (Monday) in the High Court - where the challenge to the First Amendment was in its second day - were rather surprising. [To read about the first day's proceedings, see this post]

Monday's hearing had finished with one of the Judges asking the attorney general to respond to his view that consideration should be given to amending the International Crimes (Tribunal) Act 1973 so that those accused could approach the Appellate Division during the proceedings - and not just following a conviction.

However, this morning, before the attorney general had an opportunity to say a word, Barrister Razaaq, the lawyer acting for two petitioners currently detained by the International Tribunal on allegations of crimes against humanity, jumped to his feet and informed the court that he did not want to "press" his application.

(In Bangladesh, there is a court practice that allows petitioners, if they think they will not get a favorable rule from the court, to ask the court if they can withdrawal their application. If the request is done very soon after arguments have started, the petitioner can go straight back to another court without disclosing to the second court that they had previously withdrawn the application from a previous court.

Where significant arguments have been made by a petitioner (as happened in this case), the court can still allow a petition to be withdrawn, but the petitioner would have to disclose to the second court (if the petition was being resubmitted) that the petition had previously been withdrawn and "had been rejected as not pressed.")

Justice Wahab then made a number of comments. He said that had Razzaq not withdrawn the petition he had been minded to rule against him anyway. He said that he thought a reasonable distinction could be drawn between the rights afforded to "ordinary citizens and other citizens accused of war crimes." He also said that in relation to the International Crimes (Tribunal) Act 1973, "significant measures had been taken to ensure a proper and fair trial."

He then passed an order saying that Razaaq had requested "following instructions from his clients" not to press the application.

Following the hearing, Razzaq told me outside the court that he had withdrawn it because he had thought that the judge would have passed an order against him. He said the Judge "had already made up his mind".

So why did Jamaat withdrawal the petition, when the Judge, the morning earlier had asked the attorney general about interlocutory appeals to the appellate division?

One insider suggested that the thinking behind the withdrawal was as follows: the court was looking at the issues, 'emotionally' not 'judicially'; that although the court had made some positive observations, it was unlikely to mention these in its judgement unless it was willing to say that the first amendment was unconstitutional (since the amendment itself did not allow the court to assess the 1973 Act) and it appeared unlikely that the court would do this; that if they had gone on with the application and lost, it would have have taken a long time for the appellate division to consider the case and the trials might have been over before it was concluded; that if a rule had been issued against them, it would look bad; and that after the eid vacation, there may be new benches which might be more willing to consider the application positively.

I would suggest in the current political and legal climate in Bangladesh, it is arguable whether the lawyers will find any other court bench to be more responsive to their arguments.

In withdrawing their petition from the court simply because the lawyers thought that they were going to lose also makes the Jamaat's legal position on the first amendment look pretty weak.

The Jamaat lawyers may not have wanted headlines about their petition being rejected by the court - but the semantics of what actually happened in the court today will be lost on most media. This is perfectly illustrated by the Daily Star's headline "HC rejects writ challenging crimes Tribunal" - presumably the kind of headline that they wanted to avoid. I think most people think, or will think after reading the media tomorrow, that the Jamaat petitioners simply lost their case.

Moreover, it might well have been the case that the Appellate Division would have considered an appeal on a priority basis.

About the merit of the arguments against the first amendment - I am cetainly in no position to make a competent assessment. However I do think from the arguments put to the court on Sunday that there was some kind of case to answer. The government was not however given the opportunity to do respond - and of course they may have had some very strong arguments in response.

On a wider point, I do think the way in which the first amendment is viewed by the political class in Bangladesh is rather unfortunate; that is to say "if you support war crimes trial, you are in favour of amendment; if you are against the amendment you are against the war crimes trial" This is of course much the way in which the whole issue of 'international standards' is viewed (more about that in future posts).

Clearly, now that proceedings have started, it is almost impossible for the government to change tack - however, in my view, what the government should have done was, prior to the process starting, have removed the changes that were made to article 47 of the constitution by the first amendment, and also to have amended the 1973 Act to make it constitutionally un-challengeable.

These changes would not have prevented those who committed war crimes, crimes against humanity etc from being detained, prosecuted and convicted though it may have made the investigation body have to work a little bit harder to put their legal cases together, which is no bad thing in the context of the seriousness of the allegations.

In addition, these changes would have given some additional protections to the defendents, have also made the trials fairer, and also maee the trials much less subject to criticism from outside Bangladesh.

Bdnews: Challenge to War Crimes Law Withdrawn, 23 August 2010

Aug 22, Challenge to the First Amendment

On Sunday the High Court started to hear the writ petition challenging both the constitutionality of the Constitution (First Amendment) Act 1973 and the International Crimes (Tribunal) Act 1973 Act. I was present in court.

The first amendment Act amended Article 47 of the constitution. It has two key effects: (a) removing the protection of certain fundamental rights (right to protection from law, protection in respect of trial and punishment, and right to move the High court for the enforcement of fundamental rights) from a person detained/prosecuted/sentenced under the International Crimes (Tribunal) Act 1973: (b) prevents the Act itself from being challenged for being in violation of the constitution.

During the hearing there was a particularly interesting interjection made by Justice Wahab Miah in which he set out his view that he thought that the International Crimes (Tribunal) Act should be amended to allow a person detained/prosecuted under the Act to appeal to the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court during the proceedings itself.

Under the Act, at present, an appeal to the Appellate Division can only happen following conviction.

He said: "I have looked through each and every section and subsection of the Act and the Rules. My only comment is, there should be some provision for a person to go to the Appellate Division."

At the end of the day's hearing, the judge specifically asked attorney general Mahbubey Alam to deal with this issue when he addressed the court on Monday. In response, the Attorney General said he would be "able to satisfy the court on this point".

It is not entirely clear what the Judge meant by this: for what purpose could the person approach the appellate division?

Is it being suggested that an accused person under the 1973 Act could seek a remedy for an alleged breach of his fundamental rights?

If so, this would mean that a key aspect of the First Amendment would in effect have been revoked. Moreover, the very suggestion - if part of his final ruling - would presuppose that the courts can in fact assess the constitutionality of the 1973 Act.

We will have to wait to see how the Attorney General responds to this on Monday.

All of Sunday's morning hearing was taken up by arguments from Barrister Razzaq arguing for the two petitioners (Mohammad Quamruzzaman and Abdul Quader Mollah, the Jamaat leaders currently detained by the International Crimes Tribunal on allegations that they had committed crimes against humanity in the independence war of 1971).

His first set of arguments concerned the difference between the power of the constituent assembly, which combined legislature, judiciary and executive, and the situation after the constitution was agreed in which there was a clear division of powers between the three. He argued that the constituent assembly could do anything, but once the constitution was formed, the parliament could only amend the constitution to the extent that it did not break the basic structure of the constitution.

He then went on to discuss what 'basic structure' meant. He quoted from the "8th Amendment Case Judgment" to argue that Article 44 of the constitution (the right to move the supreme court for the enforcement of rights) was part of the basic structure. He referred to paras 254, 255 and 259 of the judgement, quoting a passage from Justice Chowdhury's judgment where he said that the 8th amendment was "invalid because it is inconsistent with Article 44 .... and 102 of the constitution."

Links Judge asks AG to consider 1973 Act change

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Tribunal under challenge this week

On Sunday 22nd August, the High Court is hearing a writ petition challenging the Constitution (First Amendment) Act 1973 which was passed on 15 July 1973 five days before the International Crimes (Tribunal) Act 1973 was enacted.

By amending Article 47 of the constitution, the amendment act had the effect of protecting the International Crimes (Tribunal) Act 1973 from constitutional challenge, dis-applies the application of certain fundamental rights from those who are detained and prosecuted under the Act, and restricts these people from seeking any remedy from the High Court.

The writ which has been lodged on behalf of Mohammad Quamruzzaman and Abdul Quader Mollah (two of the four Jamaat leaders initially detained by the Tribunal) and will be argued by Barrister Abdur Razzak, the assistant secretary general of the party, as well as one of its leading lawyers.

The writ challenges the constitutionality of the amendment, the constitutionality of the 1973 Act itself, and questions the legality of the way in which the Tribunal is operating.

Two days later, on Tuesday 24th - assuming proceedings are not stayed as a result of the writ petition - the Tribunal itself will hear a number of applications from defence lawyers including ones that challenge the legal basis by which the Tribunal issued arrests warrants upon the first four detained Jamaat leaders.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

4th Hearing, 10 Aug 2010: Non-appearance of Sayedee

At this hearing on 10 August 2010 (at which I was present), Delwar Hossain Sayedee was supposed to be brought before the Tribunal (see previous post).

However, prior to the hearing, the jail authorities had informed the members of the Tribunal that he had fallen ill and could not attend.

The Tribunal chairman opened the hearing by informing the court about Sayedee's situation - as well as to say that one of the judges, Justice AKM Zaheer Ahmed was also unwell and could not attend.

He then asked the defence lawyers if all the applications that the lawyers had filed to date dealing with all five detained men could be dealt with together at the next hearing. He said since the legal issues in the applications - relating to the first four accused on the one hand, and Sayedee on the other - dealt with similiar legal issues, it would make more sense if all the applications could be dealt with at one hearing.

The defence lawyer, Tajul Islam, appeared initially hesitant, but agreed.

The next hearing date was set for 24 August.

Links Sayedee ill, Tribunal adjourns, 10 Aug 2010
Daily Star: Sayedee not produced in tribunal due to illness, 10 Aug 2010

Sunday, August 15, 2010

3rd Hearing, 5 Aug 2010: Production warrant issued against Sayedee

On 2 August, prosecutors filed a petition with the Tribunal, asking it to issue an arrest warrant against Jamaat-e-Islami Nayeb-e-Ameer Delwar Hossain Sayedee alleging that he was involved in war crimes during 1971.

Following this application, a hearing took place on 5 August.

The application for an arrest warrant was made following the transfer of a case that had been lodged with in Pirojpur. A freedom fighter Mahbubul Alam of Tengrakhali under Zianagar Upazila filed one case with Zianagar police station on Aug 31 2009, and Malik Pashari of Chithlia filed another case on August 12 2009.

At the hearing the prosecutor Rezaur Rahman set out some specific allegations against Sayedee. According to the and the Daily Star's reports, the prosecutor said a contingent of the Pakistan army led by then captain Ejaj went to Pirojpur. A meeting then book place between Captain Ejaj, and Delwar Hossain Sayedee, who pledged to provide the Pakistan army full cooperation to the army for "saving Pakistan".

The prosecution went onto say that after establishing close links with captain Ejaj, Sayedee established Razakar, Al-Badar and Al-Shams comprising the anti-liberation forces including the local Jamaat-e-Islami. He said that this was done to establish themselves as an auxiliary force of the Pakistan army in Pirojpur and its adjacent areas.

He went onto say that these groups took a stand against freedom fighters and the pro-independence citizens and committed murder, arson, looting, rape and also forced women to go to the Pakistan army personnel allowing them to be raped.

Specifically, the prosecutor alleged that Sayedee and his associates along with the Pakistan armed forces entered the houses of pro-independence citizens living at Chishtia village of Pirojpur. - Alamgir Poshari, Mahbub Poshsari, Chan Mian, Jahangir Poshari and Kanchan Poshari - at around 3pm on May 8, 1971, where they looted their money, gold ornaments and valuables.

He also alleged that their houses were set fire to.

It is then alleged that on instructions of Sayedee, men killed more than nine people and handed over several people to the Pakistani occupying forces to be killed.

In addition, the prosecutor alleged that at around 10:00am on June 2, 1971, criminals led by Sayedee and associates of the Pakistan forces entered a Hindu area at Umedkhali village at Pirojpur on the eastern side to Tengrakhali village, and looted money, gold ornaments and valuables, and torched their homes.

It was also alleged that they held the people of the village hostage, tortured them by tying them to coconut trees and then shot them dead.

After hearing this, the Tribunal however however, did not issue an arrest warrant.

The tribunal chairman said that."Since the suspect is in jail custody, we are inclined to issue a production warrant first asking the jail authority to bring the said suspect [Sayedee] and hear the application [submitted by the prosecution for Sayedee's arrest warrant] in his presence,"

He also fixed that date for hearing of the six separate petitions filed earlier by the defence in relation to four other Jamaat leaders. Sayedee to stand before Tribunal, 10 August, 5 August 2010
Daily Star: Tribunal hears war crimes of Sayedee, 5 August 2010 War crimes cases against Sayedee sent to Tribunal, 21 July 2010

2nd Hearing, 2 Aug 2010: 4 Jamaat leaders brought to court

At the second hearing (at which I was present) the four Jamaat leaders were brought to the Tribunal. What followed is best described in the report

"In his ruling on Monday, the tribunal chairman said that the suspected men had been brought before the tribunal following his previous orders. "The suspected persons are now present in the dock, "he said.

He said that he had seen the report of the investigation officer who stated that "the warrant of arrest could not be executed on the four suspected persons as they were already in prison in relation to different cases".

The tribunal chairman then ordered the "suspected persons be sent back to prison" to await further orders from the court.

Prior to the order, advocates Tajul Islam tried to make an application to the tribunal on behalf of the four defendants.

The lawyer said that he had three applications – an application seeking the execution of the letter of authority, an application seeking certified copies of the complaint against them and other orders passed by the tribunal, and an application praying for a recall of the warrant of arrest.

The tribunal chief, however, stated that before making any application, it must be lodged with the registrar. "We have some procedures in this court," he said.

Links Jamaat leaders to be kept in custody, Aug 2 2010
Daily Star: 4 Jamaat leaders in war trial dock, Aug 3 2010

1st Hearing, 26 July 2010: Arrest warrants issued against 4 Jamaat leaders

The first hearing of the Tribunal took place on 26 July and dealt with a prosecution petition, lodged a day earlier, asking the tribunal to issue arrest warrants against four Jamaat-e-Islami leaders - Jamaat Ameer Motiur Rahman Nizami, its Secretary General Ali Ahsan Muhammad Mojahid and senior assistant secretaries general Muhammad Kamaruzzaman and Abdul Quader Molla.

The Daily Star quoted the Chief Prosecutor, Golam Arif Tipu, as telling journalists, after he had filed the petitions, that:
"We have submitted a petition against the Jamaat leaders seeking necessary lawful steps from the tribunal to keep them confined. We made the prayer so that they cannot escape or create obstruction in the investigation and that the investigation agency can smoothly conduct probes into the allegations against them of committing genocide, murder, rape, torture, loot, and arson during the Liberation War of 1971."
The registrar of the tribunal confirmed to me that the arrest warrant was sought on the basis of investigation into two cases that had originally been filed as normal criminal cases at police stations.

One was a case initially filed with Pallabi Police Station in 2008 by Mohammad Amir Hossain Mollah, a wounded freedom fighter and resident of Pallabi's Duaripara, accusing the four Jamaat men along with three other, and three non-Bangalees for the massacre of 345 people.

The case was sent to the Tribunal on July 21 this year by the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate's court.

The second case was filed with Keraniganj Police Station in 2007

At the hearing on 26 July (at which I was not present), the prosecution requested the Tribunal to issue arrest warrants on the basis of rule 9 of the Rules of Procedure, that the arrests were "necessary for adequate and effective investigation."

It was argued that their detention was necessary in order to avoid them interfering with the investigation. It appears that apart from making this general assertion to the court, no details were given to the court by the prosecution as to the basis for thinking that the men would interfere with the investigation, or whether there was any evidence that they had already done so.

The Daily Star reports the prosecutor as saying that said the investigation agency was conducting an investigation and had already found evidence against the four Jamaat leaders relating to offences under section 3(2) of the International Crimes Tribunal Act.

No other details were provided

The newspaper goes on to report this dialogue took place between the Tribunal and the prosecution:
"Chairman of the Tribunal Justice Nizamul asked the chief prosecutor to give his submission as per the requirements of the section 9(1) of the Rules. In response, the chief prosecutor said there are plenty of materials about the four suspected war criminals.

The chairman asked him, "What are the specific allegations against the four persons?" In reply, Tipu said being united with the Pakistani occupation forces and army as an auxiliary force, the alleged persons took part actively in killing, rape, loot, and crimes against humanity and peace.

Member of the Tribunal Justice Fazle Kabir asked about the places of occurrence. "It was the entire Bangladesh," Tipu replied to the court.

Justice Kabir said Bangladesh cannot be the place of occurrence and asked the chief prosecutor to mention specifically about the places of such occurrence he mentioned against the four.
But the prosecution could not mention any specific places of occurrence."

Tribunal Chairman Justice Nizamul Huq ordered that "Warrants of arrest should be issued against these four people to ensure effective and proper investigation." He also asked for the four men to be produced before the Tribunal on 2 August,

No defence lawyers were present at the hearing. A prosecutor told the Daily Star, that the Jamaat leaders had no right for lawyers to be present during hearing seeking the issuance of arrest warrant as the Tribunal had not "taken any charge against them into cognisance."

There is a question as to whether the Tribunal had the power to issue an arrest warrant at this stage in the proceedings - an issue which will be discussed in a later blog.

See: 1971: Questions raised about arrest warrant

Daily Star: Int'l crimes tribunal starts proceedings today, 26 July
Daily Star: Arrest order for 1971 genocide, 27 July

Amendment: The last sentence of the post was titled as 'comment' to prevent any confusion from the preceding text. A new link was also added

Friday, August 13, 2010

Introduction to the Blog

I am a journalist living in Dhaka Bangladesh, working with as one of its senior editors responsible for the English language site. I also write some investigative and special reports for the site.

This blog will principally be about the International Crimes Tribunal set up by the Bangladesh government to prosecute those alleged to have committed war crimes, crimes against humanity and other international crimes during the Independence war of Bangladesh in 1971.

The Bangladesh government has made it clear that the Tribunal will only prosecute Bengalis who in 1971 collaborated with the Pakistan military. It will not prosecute members of the Pakistan military.

I am writing the blog to make it easier for people inside and outside of Bangladesh to keep track of developments in the Tribunal - and also to provide some independent analysis of the issues involved.

The three member Tribunal, an investigation agency, and a prosecution body were all established on 25 March 2010 to prosecute crimes under the International Crimes (Tribunal) Act 1973.

Since then arrest warrants have been issued against four people - all them senior members of the political party Jamaat-e-Islami - and they are now all in detention. They are: Jamaat Ameer Motiur Rahman Nizami, its Secretary General Ali Ahsan Muhammad Mojahid and senior assistant secretaries general Muhammad Kamaruzzaman and Abdul Quader Molla (see post on first hearing)

In addition, a production warrant has been issued against Jamaat-e-Islami Nayeb-e-Ameer Delwar Hossain Sayedee (see post on fourth hearing)

The Jamaat-e-Islami is an islamic political party which in 1971 sided with the Pakistan military. There have been extensive allegations that some members of the party, including those who were members of its student wing at the time (known then as the Islami Chhatra Shongho), committed serious crimes in 1971.

In subsequent posts, I will explain what has happened from the first Tribunal hearing that started last month.

I hope you will find this blog useful, and please do leave comments, queries, or information.

There are of course a number of websites that provide useful information about the 1971 war and the Tribunal (I will do a separate post on this later) - but I would like to recommend at the outset the media database of one website that does contain a pretty comprehensive selection of media articles in both Bangla and English on the Tribunal (and related issues). War Crimes Strategy Forum, Media database.