Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has lambasted Amnesty International accusing it of trying to protect war criminals as she alleged that the global rights group had been bribed to defend the accused.
Hasina accused Amnesty of taking money for its defence of the war criminals calling the the act “despicable”, a news portal reported.
Amnesty, in a media statement on October 27 before the final court verdict on war criminals Salauddin Quader Chowdhury and Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid, had said that “serious crimes by freedom fighters” during the 1971 Liberation War had gone unpunished. Hasina said, “We’ve strongly condemned it (statement) and will continue to do so”.
“They received something big for it,” Hasina said at a press briefing on Sunday, implying that Amnesty was paid off for making the statement. The prime minister also urged for an early conclusion of the war crimes trials. “We have to take steps to try the (suspected) war criminals quickly,” she said.
War crimes suspects were put on trial after the formation of the first war crimes tribunal in 2010. A second one was constituted two years later to expedite the trials. But the government merged the two tribunals after many cases were resolved and the number of pending cases decreased.
Most of the war criminals are from the fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami, which opposed Bangladesh’s independence from Pakistan. The Supreme Court handed death sentences to wartime Al-Badr chief Jamaat leader Mujahid on June 16 and Chittagong’s BNP leader Chowdhury on July 29. The full verdicts were published on September 30.
The convicts have sought a final review of the verdict before execution. The apex court will hear their pleas on November 17 amid allegations of attempts to obstruct the trials.