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Bangladesh to seek extradition of 1971 war crimes accused

Press Trust of India  |  Dhaka 

Bangladesh today said it would launch legal and diplomatic efforts to repatriate an alleged 1971 war crimes accused from the UK, who is now one of Britain's most prominent Muslim leaders.

The reaction came a day after Choudhury Muenuddin in an interview with the Al Jazeera declined to appear before the Bangladeshi war crimes tribunal saying "the tribunal in Bangladesh is a joke, its a sham trial."

"Choudhury Mueenuddin himself is an accused who is wanted particularly for the systematic killings of top intellectuals just ahead of the December 16, 1971 victory against Pakistan. Don't you think it is natural on his part to make such claims about the trial," attorney general Mahbubey Alam told PTI.

Alam said, Mueenuddin, a former journalist, and his fellow war crimes accused Mohammad Ashrafuzzaman Khan alias Nayeb Ali would be tried in absentia if they could not be brought back.

"We know one of them (Mueenuddin) is living in Britain and the other is in the United States. We will do all we can to return them home to be exposed to justice," a foreign ministry spokesman told PTI.

Mueenuddin also denied involvement in "any criminal activities of any nature" in the 1971 liberation war or since, saying, "In fact, I was not even a supporter of military action and I resigned my political posts after the military crackdown."

Mueenuddin and Khan were two leaders of the infamous Al-Badr militia manned mostly by students of the radical Jamaat-e-Islami party which was opposed to Bangladesh's independence from Pakistan and they fled the country when Pakistani troops surrendered after their defeat in the war.

The prosecution lawyers said they had gathered specific evidence that Mueenuddin played a crucial role in the massacre of intellectuals opposed to the Islamists on December 14, 1971 just before the war ended while archival media documents revealed that he had acted like a secret killer.

The International Crimes Tribunal (ICT-2) on June 24 indicted Mueenuddin and Khan on 11 counts of 'crimes against humanity' committed during the war.

According to the prosecution evidence, Mueenuddin was the Al-Badr operation in-charge while Ashrafuzzaman Khan was the chief executor of the Gestapo-like elite militia force which is accused of killing top intellectuals, doctors, scholars and journalists during the war.

The tribunals have already handed down death penalty to four top Jamaat leaders and life imprisonment to two others triggering violence across the country that claimed over 150 lives since the first sentence was awarded in January this year.

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First Published: Sun, July 21 2013. 17:25 IST