Jamaat leader Yusuf arrested

Bangladesh’s first war crimes tribunal has sent Jamaat-e-Islami leader AKM Yusuf to jail hours after he was arrested in a case that charges him with crimes against humanity during the Liberation War of 1971.

Staff Correspondentbdnews24.com
Published : 12 May 2013, 01:02 AM
Updated : 12 May 2013, 06:18 AM

Yusuf was produced at the chamber of International Crimes Tribunal-1 Chairman Justice ATM Fazle Kabir in Sunday afternoon, who ordered his detention pending trial.

Tribunal prosecutor Syed Haider Ali said Yusuf’s lawyers had filed a bail petition and the judge had set Monday for hearing the plea.

Around noon, the tribunal took into cognisance the charges against Yusuf and ordered he be produced to court by May 26.

Immediately afterwards, Rapid Action Battelion (RAB) nabbed the Jamaat leader from his residence ‘Golap Villa’ in Dhanmondi 10/A of the capital.

Yusuf was taken to the tribunal after 4pm. After keeping him inside the tribunal prison for some time, the judge sent him to Dhaka Central Jail at around 4:45pm.

Yusuf’s lawyer Saifur Rahman complained that law enforcers had arrested his client before arrest orders reached them. “This is unfair.”

The prosecution had submitted the charges at the ICT registrar’s office on May 5.

On Apr 22, a probe panel of the prosecution filed the report accusing Yusuf of involvement in crimes against humanity during the war on 15 counts including mass murder, rape, arson and loot.

Probe coordinator Hannan Khan had said they found evidence that the Razakars under Yusuf's command were involved in killing almost 700 people.

There were also evidence against Yusuf of looting and setting fire to 300 houses, 400 shops and of forcibly converting 200 Hindus, he added.

Yusuf was a member of the so-called Malek Cabinet, a dummy government formed by Pakistan during the Liberation War. He was also Jamaat’s acting chief for some time.

In charge of public works, power, revenue and irrigation in the infamous Malek cabinet, Yusuf joined Jamaat-e-Islami in 1952 and became the Khulna’s regional head within five years.

Yusuf was nominated as the joint secretary of Jamaat’s East Pakistan unit and became the party’s deputy chief in 1971.

Investigation Officer Helal Uddin said that Yusuf was the one who coined the term ‘Razakar’ for the support forces raised to collaborate with Pakistan during that time.

Investigation regarding the matter began on Jan 22 last year.

That revealed that Yousuf, Jamaat’s head of Khulna region and a former MP, had trained 96 Jamaat activists as Razakars in Khulna’s paramilitary camps.

The vigilante militia group Razakar — which has become synonymous with ‘collaborator’ in Bengali — supported the war effort of the Pakistani military junta during the 1971 Liberation War and committed widespread crimes against humanity.

It was Yusuf, Jamaat’s head of Khulna region, and the party’s provincial joint secretary, who trained 96 Jamaat men as Razakars in Khulna’s paramilitary camp. He also led all the anti-liberation war forces including the infamous Peace Committee, Razakars, Al Badr and Al Shams in the region.

The charges against him mentioned that he was in a superior position with command responsibility and assisted the Pakistani forces by giving directives and suggestions.
The investigation officials said Yusuf was both directly and indirectly involved in genocide, murder, rape, loot and arson that took place in different areas of Khulna during the war.
After the war, Yousuf was sentenced to life imprisonment under the 1972 Collaborator’s Order but was released from jail on Dec 5, 1973 after the then government announced general pardon.