3 Nov 2013

British Muslim leader sentenced to death for war crimes

A prominent British-based Muslim leader has been sentenced to death in his absence at a special war crimes tribunal in Bangladesh.

A special war crimes tribunal in Bangladesh has sentenced to death two Bangladeshis living in Britain for crimes against humanity during the country’s independence war against Pakistan in 1971.

Chowdhury Mueen Uddin, who lives in Britain, and Ashrafuzzaman Khan, who lives in New York, have been found guilty by a three-judge panel of abducting and murdering 18 people, including nine university teachers, six journalists and three physicians.

The two were tried in absentia after they refused to return to Bangladesh to face trial.

East London link

Now resident in the UK, Chowdhury Mueen Uddin helped set up the Muslim Council of Britain and served as the director of Muslim Spiritual Care in the NHS.

He has also served as vice chairman of the East London Musque and London Muslim Centre.

The Home Office is unable to confirm if any extradition request had been made for Uddin.

A 1995 Channel 4 documentary, War Crimes Files, accused Uddin of being being involved in war crimes as a member of the paramilitary force Al-Badr during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War.

Deputy Attorney General MK Rahman said “All of the allegations have been proved in the trial. The tribunal has sentenced to death both the accused on all counts”.

Bangladesh says Pakistani soldiers and collaborators killed 3 million people and raped 200,000 women during the 1971 war.

During the war the two men were members of Jamaat-e-Islami, an Islamic party and ally of the country’s main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, headed by former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, a rival of current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

War crimes tribunal

Hasina formed the special tribunal in 2010 to try war crimes suspects.

Former guerrilla fighter Nasiruddin Yusuf has called for authorities in the United States and the United Kingdom “to ensure that they send them (suspects) back to this country”.

“If there is any problem, they must be tried as war criminals in the countries they are living in as citizens at this time”.

A Supreme Court ruling last month upheld the conviction and death sentence of a senior member of Jamaat-e-Islami, Abdul Quader Mollah, triggered deadly clashes and a nationwide general strike.