War Crimes Trials Begin in Bangladesh

War Crimes Trials Begin in Bangladesh

By SONJA DECHIAN | Published: NOVEMBER 22, 2011

The first suspect  to face charges relating to Bangladesh’s 1971 War of Independence will stand trial in Dhaka this week. Delawar Hossain Sayedee is charged with genocide, rape, religious persecution and enslavement, and could be hanged if found guilty.

More than three million people were killed in the country’s nine-month war to become independent from Pakistan. Hundreds of thousands of women were raped.

The court will try seven suspects accused of collaborating with Pakistani forces. All seven deny the charges and accuse the government of conducting a show trial motivated by a vendetta against political opponents. Human Rights Watch has called on the government to investigate claims of harassment of defence lawyers and witnesses, while critics continue to question whether a conviction will amount to justice or revenge.

In related news, Bangladesh’s foreign minister has formally called on Pakistan to apologize for atrocities alleged to have been committed by its military during the war.

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