Bangladeshi authorities on Sunday arrested Jamaat-e-Islami party (JI) [party website, in Bengali] leader AKM Yusuf [official website, in Bengali] on charges of crimes against humanity allegedly committed during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War [GlobalSecurity backgrounder]. Prosecutors allege that Yusuf helped to train 96 Islamic party activists [bdnews24 report] for the paramilitary group known as the "Razakars." The militia group reportedly collaborated with the Pakistani junta during the 1971 war to suppress Hindu dissent. The prosecution claims to have uncovered evidence establishing that Yusuf lead the Razakars in killing approximately 700 people. In addition, reports suggest that Yusuf directed military forces to loot and burn more than 300 homes and 400 stores, and to forcibly convert approximately 200 Hindus. Prosecutors filed charges against Yusuf in April in the International Crimes Tribunal Bangladesh (ICTB) [Facebook page] alleging a variety of charges including murder, rape, arson and theft. The judge presiding over the case ordered that Yusuf be detained until a trial date can be set.
The ICTB has been controversial since it was established [JURIST report] by Bangladeshi officials in 2010 to investigate and prosecute crimes committed during the 1971 liberation war. Earlier this month the ICTB sentenced [JURIST report] Mohammad Kamaruzzam, assistant secretary general of the JI, to death for atrocities committed during the war. Also in May the ICTB indicted [JURIST report] Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin, a Bangladesh-born UK Muslim leader, for crimes against humanity and genocide including his alleged role in the murder of top intellectuals during the war. In February the ICTB sentenced to death [JURIST report] JI party leader Delwar Hossain Sayeedee [JURIST news archive]. Earlier in February the Bangladesh parliament approved amendments to the country's war crimes laws to allow prosecutors to appeal sentences given to defendants convicted of war crimes. These amendments were a response to protests [JURIST report] that ensued after Abdul Quader Mollah, another JI leader, was given a life sentence [JURIST report] for crimes during the war.