Syed Mohammad Qaisar, Bangladesh's former state minister for agriculture, was charged on Sunday with 18 war crimes for acts allegedly committed during the Bangladesh Liberation War [GlobalSecurity backgrounder] in 1971. Charges were formally filed with the International Crimes Tribunal Bangladesh (ICTB) [JURIST news archive], which arrested Qaisar in May. The prosecution alleges that Qaisar was involved in mass killings, as well as separate instances of rape, abduction, looting and arson. Along with the formal charges, the prosecution submitted a list of 70 witnesses. Allegations against Qaisar have been under investigation for over a year.
The ICTB, which was established in 2009 under the International Crimes Act [text] is charged with investigating and prosecuting war crimes committed during the 1971 conflict, in which about 3 million people were killed. Last week the tribunal found [JURIST report] Chowdhury Mueen Uddin and Ashrafuzzaman Khan, both members of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) [party website; GlobalSecurity backgrounder] party, guilty of abducting and murdering 18 people [AP report] in December 1971. Last month, Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) [party website] leader Zahid Hossain Khokon was indicted [JURIST report] in absentia on war crimes charges, including genocide, torture, abduction and confinement. In August the Supreme Court of Bangladesh [official website] sentenced [JURIST report] Abdul Quader Mollah, assistant secretary general of the Islamist party JI, to death. This overturned a February ruling by the ICTB, which sentenced Mollah to life in prison for crimes committed during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War. In July Ali Ahsan Mojaheed was found guilty of five charges [JURIST report] by the ICTB, including those of kidnapping and killing a journalist, a music director and a number of other people during the war.