War crimes trial: US special envoy to assist Bangladesh

Monday, November 29, 2010

DHAKA - US War Crimes Ambassador-at-large Stephen Rapp will be here next month to assist Bangladesh in the trial of Islamists accused of war crimes committed during the 1971 liberation movement.

Rapp will be here at the invitation of the Bangladesh government that is preparing to hold trial under its own laws.

The trial’s credibility has been questioned.

Human Rights Watch, the International Bar Association and most recently the International Centre for Transitional Justice have raised some questions about whether the process will be fair, the New Age newspaper said Monday.

The US war crimes ambassador-at-large agreed to come to Bangladesh at a time when international lawyers outside the country have raised concerns about whether the tribunal would follow international standards under the current legal regime of the country.

Prior to being appointed US war crimes ambassador-at-large, Stephen Rapp was chief prosecutor at the UN-appointed International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda 2001-07, and then at the Special Court in Sierra Leone.

The Bangladesh government has set in motion the process to try the top brass of the countrys largest Islamist party, Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, and an unspecified number of people who, as young Islamist militants, are accused of targeting unarmed civilians in the run-up to the liberation movement.

Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Mohamed Mijarul Quayes said that he invited Ambassador Rapp to ensure fullest credibility in the International Crimes Tribunal process.

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