DHAKA, July 25 (Reuters) – Bangladesh accused four detained leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami, the country’s biggest Islamic political party, of war crimes committed in the war of independence nearly 40 years ago, prosecutors said on Sunday.
Jamaat chief Motiur Rahman Nizami, his deputy Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid, and two other key leaders, Muhammad Kamaruzzaman and Abdul Quader Mollah, were detained last month on charges ranging from obstructing police to sedition.
“We have pleaded that the tribunal should ask police to show the four detained leaders also arrested for crimes committed during the liberation war,” Prosecutor Golam Arif Tipu told reporters at a briefing.
Jamaat denies the charges, and in turn has accused the government of trying to curb its activities using war crime charges as a ploy to push that effort.
Police last week filed charges at the special war crimes tribunal in Dhaka against the Jamaat leaders accusing them of killing 345 people including fighters in Dhaka’s Mirpur area during the war against Pakistani forces in 1971.
Delwar Hossain Saidee, a fifth detained leader of Jamaat is likely to be accused of another war crime charge committed in southwestern Satkhira district.
Local people led the Pakistani troops in a day-long raid of hundreds of homes in Mirpur residential district, killing people indiscriminately, said the first information report filed in January, 2010, by Amir Hossain Mollah.
“The tribunal will hear the prosecutors’ plea on Monday,” registrar of the tribunal Mohammad Shahinur Islam told reporters.
The tribunal set up in March filed war crime charges against the Jamaat leaders on July 21, police said.
Bangladesh, formerly East Pakistan, won independence with India’s help in December 1971 following a nine-month war against Pakistan. Around 3 million people were killed and thousands of women raped.
Many Bangladeshis accuse Jamaat of actively collaborating with the Pakistani army.
Trying war criminals was an election pledge of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who returned to power in January 2009 after polls that ended two years of rule by an army-backed interim authority.
(Reporting by Nizam Ahmed; Editing by Anis Ahmed)