BNP out to scuttle war crimes trial, PM threatens litigation

Source: The Daily Star.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday again issued a note of warning in parliament, saying her government would take “legal action” against those who were trying to impede the trial of crimes against humanity which took place during the 1971 Liberation War.

The premier also urged the people of the country to “mount pressure” on the BNP so that it refrained from assisting the war criminals.

“As the holding of the trial of war criminals is one of the political commitments of the government, we are firmly committed to completing it,” Hasina said, asserting that her government would not backtrack from the task despite the obstacles in the way.

She said a certain quarter had been trying its best, directly and indirectly, to hinder the trial soon after its commencement. They were carrying out propaganda at home and abroad and making all out efforts to create anarchy in the country.

“People were surprised to see the opposition leader coming out in favour of the war criminals. It is very disgraceful for the nation,” Hasina said as she responded to queries from lawmakers.

“Doesn’t she understand that her [Khaleda Zia] efforts to save the war criminals are hurting the souls of thirty lakh martyrs and two lakh mothers and sisters who lost their honour in 1971?”

The premier said her government had moved ahead to try those who had been creating hindrances to the holding of the trial under the country’s existing laws.

In this regard, she noted that sudden violence had erupted on December 18 last year in different parts of the capital and elsewhere in the country.

At daybreak on that day a series of crude homemade bombs went off in Dhaka as hundreds of activists of the BNP and its key ally Jamaat-e-Islami clashed with police, smashed more than a dozen vehicles and set some of those on fire. At least one person was killed and several others were injured during the violence.

Hasina said those opposing the trial directly and indirectly were involved in the anarchy. Cases were filed against those involved and investigation was going on, she said.

In response to a query, she said an investigation into the alleged laundering of $25 million by Jamaat leader and owner of private television channel Diganta, Mir Kashem Ali, to appoint a US-based lobbyist firm to campaign against the trial of war criminals, was underway.

“The government has already come by some evidence of it. Proper action will be taken on completion of the investigation,” she added.

Hasina said her government had already amended the money laundering act and anti-terrorism law to take measures against such offences.

During the question-answer session, the premier also recounted the initiatives her government had taken to eradicate poverty, improve the railways sector, empower women, ensure quality education, boost agriculture and strengthen diplomatic relations with foreign countries.

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