Dhaka: Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said it is time to try those who had sided with and rehabilitated the war criminals of the 1971 liberation struggle, media reported on Thursday.
The Awami League President made the announcement at an event organised by the ruling party to mark Martyred Intellectuals Day on 14 December. But she did not specify any date, bdnews24 reported.
"Those who had handed them the flag of independence are also equally responsible for their crimes. They will also be tried like the war criminals on the soil of Bangladesh," she said.
Hasina noted that the war crimes trial in Bangladesh will continue like that of World War II in Germany.
"No strategy or conspiracy will save them. Because this is the path of justice. Truth and justice always prevail," the Prime Minister said.
The Jamaat-e-Islami, which opposed Bangladesh's independence and sided with the Pakistani army during the Liberation War, was allowed to do politics in independent Bangladesh after the assassination of 'Bangabandhu' Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1975.
The rehabilitation took place during the tenure of BNP founder Ziaur Rahman, Bangladesh's first military ruler.
Two war criminal Jamaat leaders — Motiur Rahman Nizami and Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid — became ministers when General Zia's wife Khaleda Zia, who is leading the BNP, was the Prime Minister from 2001 to 2006.
Another war criminal, Salauddin Quader Chowdhury, was Khaleda's parliamentary affairs adviser at that time.
The much-awaited war crimes trial started after the Awami League came to power in 2009. Nizami, Mujahid, Chowdhury and three other war criminals have been hanged so far.
In the verdict sentencing Nizami to death, the International Crimes Tribunal had observed that giving a ministerial berth to Nizami was a "slap on the faces of millions of martyrs".
Hasina said that those who harboured the war criminals, restored their political right and handed them the flag "stained with blood of millions of martyrs" were equally responsible for the crimes.
"They will have to be tried. I think now is the time when the people should raise their voice," the Prime Minister added.
On the night of 14 December in 1971, over 200 intellectuals including professors, journalists, doctors, artistes, engineers, and writers were abducted by the Pakistani occupation forces.
They were taken to torture cells in different parts of the city and executed en masse at various killing fields, most notably Rayerbazar and Mirpur.
Bangladesh gained independence from Pakistani occupation on December 16, 1971.
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Updated Date: Dec 15, 2016 13:08:10 IST