Bangladesh Tightens Security Ahead of Supreme Court Hearing on War Criminals

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Bangladesh Tightens Security Ahead of Supreme Court Hearing on War Criminals

Bangladeshi security personnel stand guard outside a jail in Dhaka. (AFP File Photo)

Dhaka, Bangladesh:  Bangladesh authorities today tightened security across the country fearing violence ahead of the Supreme Court hearing on final appeal against two opposition leaders sentenced to death for war crimes committed during the 1971 independence war.

"We have intensified security across the country," a senior police officer told PTI.

The officer said the move comes as "general precaution" as followers of death row convicts - Jamaat-e-Islami secretary general Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid and opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) leader Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury - could create an "anarchic situation" after the final judgement.

Citing sources, private news portal BDNEWS24.com said, "law enforcement and intelligence agency officials have claimed that they have concrete information on disruption to law and order centring the possible execution of two war criminals".

"Saturday's attacks on publishers may be a part of the plan...more such attacks may come in this month as the government moves ahead with the execution of the two big war criminals," it said, quoting an intelligence agency official.

The intelligence officials said Chowdhury and Mujahid had strong followings in the BNP and Jamaat and they could "somehow try to do something to destabilise law and order to thwart their possible executions".

On Saturday, a publisher was killed and another wounded along with two bloggers when machete wielding assailants attacked two publishing houses, an assault claimed by 'Ansar al Islam' also known as 'Ansarullah Bangla Team' or self-proclaimed Bangladesh branch of Al Qaeda.

Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal had told news agency PTI that the Islamist outfit was ideologically linked to Jamaat, hinting that the orchestrated attacks were part of plans to destabilise Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's government.

The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court is set to hear review petition of the duo as their last ditch effort to evade gallows.

"Their matter has been incorporated for hearing in the (SC) cause list serial 16 and 17...if their issues do not come within the court hours, the hearing may be deferred until tomorrow," a spokesman of the attorney general's office said.

Both Mujahid and Chowdhury are in their late 60s and were senior ministers in ex-prime minister Khaleda Zia's BNP-led coalition government with Jamaat being its key partner.

Mujahid was found to be a key mastermind of the massacre of the country's top intelligentsia just ahead of the December 16, 1971 victory. Chowdhury carried out atrocities particularly at his home district of southeastern Chittagong.

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The Supreme Court upheld their capital punishment in June and July respectively after a special tribunal sentenced them to death.

TV reports said police has detained 24 Jamaat activists from western Jessore and looked for several others in Pabna where they attacked a prosecution witness yesterday.
 

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