Islamist party leader arrested for war crimes
Special tribunal accuses Mir Kashem Ali of running torture cell
Mir Kashem Ali (wearing black coat) is the eighth person charged with crimes against humanity during the 1971 liberation war of Bangladesh (www.bangla.irib.ir)
Police yesterday arrested media heavyweight and senior figure in the Jamaat-e-Islami Party, Mir Kashem Ali, for alleged crimes against humanity during the 1971 Liberation War. Ali was arrested at the Dhaka office of Naya Digante, the newspaper which he owns, said Dhaka Metropolitan Police Commissioner Masudur Rahman, hours after International Crimes Tribunal-1 issued a special warrant. Prosecution lawyer Rana Dasgupta told the tribunal that Ali was a unit leader of Al Badar, a group created by Pakistan’s occupation army during the war, and the head of a torture cell in Bangladesh’s second-largest city Chittagong. Dasgupta said the warrant was issued amid fears Ali would flee the country, as was the case with another war crimes suspect, Abul Kalam Azad Bacchu. “Being a core leader with Jamaat, Mir Kashem Ali also led propaganda in the UK and Middle East countries to halt the ongoing war crimes trial,” Dasgupta told the tribunal. Ali is the eighth person to be arrested on war crimes charges since the special tribunal was established in March 2010. Six of those taken into custody are members of Jamaat, the largest Islamist party in the country and a political ally of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party. The other two defendants are from the BNP. Critics of the tribunal accuse the process of being politically motivated by the ruling Awami League while falling short of international standards of justice. The government has pledged to hold accountable those deemed to be responsible for atrocities during Bangladesh’s war of independence, which claimed the lives of as many as three million people.