Mobarak Hossain

08.05.2016 ( Last modified: 13.06.2016 )
Trial Watch would like to remind its users that any person charged by national or international authorities is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

facts

Mobarak Hossain was born on 10 January 1950 in the village of Nayadil near Akhaura, in the district of Brahmanbaria, Bangladesh. During the period of the charges against him, he was a member of the Islamist political party Jamaat-e-Islami and commander in the Razakars paramilitary group. This group, founded and led by the Pakistani army in 1971 to counter pro-liberation independent movements, was composed of about 4’000 volunteers. Most of the members were from the eastern part of Pakistan (now Bangladesh), and fought under the command of the Pakistan army during the Bangladesh liberation war from March to December 1971.

On 22 August 1971, Hossain and his accomplices convened a meeting in a house in the village of Tanmandail Akhaura, reportedly attended by 130 villagers. Hossain wanted to know if some of their relatives had joined the Liberation War. As part of their plan, Hossain and his accomplices removed the villagers and took them by boat to a camp of the Pakistani army near Ganga Sagar, for questioning.

On 23 August 1971, Hossain and his accomplices selected 26 persons among the villagers and seven other people from the village of Jangail and locked them in a local prison. The next day, the Pakistani army and Razakars took them to the west bank of the river Ganga Sagar, forced them to dig a ditch, then slaughtered and buried them there.

During the war, Hossain and other supporters of the Pakistan army took control of the Hindu temple Anandamoyee Kalibari, before renaming it Razakar Manjil and looting valuables therein, as well as damaging idols.

On 24 October 1971, Hossain removed the schoolboy Ashu Ranjan Dev, a member of the armed pro-liberation group Mukti Bahini. from the village of Shimrayl. He locked him up and tortured him in the Hindu temple renamed Razakar Manjil, before shooting him four days later.

On 11 November 1971, Hossain and his accomplices allegedly abducted Abdul Khaleque, a member of the armed pro-liberation group Ansar, from the village of Satian. They took him to the Razakar camp of Suhilpur and allegedly tortured him there. Hossain also shot him and charged him with the bayonet to make sure he was dead.

On 24 and 25 November 1971, a group of Razakars led by Hossain abducted Khadem Hossain Khan, an informer for Mukti Bahini, and brutally tortured him.

On 28 and 29 November 1971, Hossain, accompanied by the Pakistani army, abducted Abdul Malek of Kharampur and Mohammad Siraj of Amirpara and killed them on 6 December 1971.

After the war, Hossain remained a member of the Jamaat-e-Islami before joining the Awami League, the leading political power in Bangladesh.

On 3 May 2009, Khodeza Begum, daughter of Abdul Khaleque, filed a complaint against Hossain to the Brahmanbaria police. Hossain was then brought before the High Court, where he was granted bail for a period of six months.

legal procedure

On 3 May 2009, Khodeza Begum, daughter of Abdul Khaleque, filed a complaint against Hossain to the Brahmanbaria police. Hossain was then brought before the High Court, where he was granted bail for a period of six months.

In 2011, the case was transferred to the Tribunal for international crimes in Dhaka.

In 2012, Hossain was excluded from the Awami League, of which he had been secretary since 1996.

On 25 February 2013, the Attorney General presented the formal indictment according to which Hossain was a member of Razakars and actively participated in the commission of crimes against humanity during the 1971 war. According to the charges, Hossain also aided the Pakistani army in the commission of war crimes in the Brahmanbaria region.

On 12 March 2013, the Tribunal took cognizance of the charges against Hossain. Given the nature of the case, Hossain was taken into custody the same day, and his bail application was refused.

On 23 April 2013, Hossain was charged with five counts of crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Akhaura during the Bangladesh liberation war in 1971.

On 15 December 2013, Hossain denied in his testimony to have acted in the war for the independence of Bangladesh.

On 19 May 2014, after the closing arguments, the prosecution requested the death penalty for Hossain.

On 24 November 2014, Hossain was convicted of mass murder, kidnapping and torture and sentenced to death by hanging.

On 18 December 2014, Hossain appealed against the decision of the Tribunal of 24 November 2014, asking for his acquittal.

context

THE 1971 BANGLADESH LIBERATION WAR

The 1947 partition of India resulted in the emergence of the country of Pakistan out of two territories: West Pakistan (today’s Pakistan) and East Pakistan (today’s Bangladesh). As a response to the Awami League victory in the 1970 general elections, the Pakistan Army launched Operation Searchlight on 25 March 1971, a massive military operation designed to curb the nationalist movement in East Pakistan. The armed conflict became known as the “Liberation War” and lasted until 16 December 1971.

The conflict involved widespread killings and other atrocities –forced displacement, disappearances, destruction and confiscation of property, torture and sexual violence– carried out by the Pakistan Army with the assistance of religious and political groups from East and West Pakistan. The exact number of victims of the conflict is not established. Bangladeshi authorities claim that 3 million people were killed while a Pakistan Government investigation states the figure of 26,000. The conflict also led to a major humanitarian crisis, with eight to ten millions refugees fleeing to India. Sexual violence was allegedly used as a weapon of war, with an estimated 200.000 women victims of rape.

INTERNATIONAL CRIMES TRIBUNAL ACT (ICTA)

On 20 June 1973, the ICTA was adopted to provide for the prosecution of any persons for “crimes against humanity, genocide, crimes against peace, war crimes, violation of any humanitarian rules and any other crimes under international law” committed in Bangladesh. The ICTA, using the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal Charter as a template, was to serve as a basis for a national tribunal.

However, efforts ended with the military coup of 1975. The new regime also repealed the 1972 Collaborator’s Act, which had been designed to bring to account those who had collaborated with the Pakistan Army. As a result, prosecutions of “collaborators” who did not fall under the 30 November 1973 amnesty were stopped, and all those detained and convicted were pardoned and released.

INTERNATIONAL CRIMES TRIBUNAL (ICT)

In 2008, the ICTA was resuscitated in the election manifesto of the Awami League. In 2009, the elected Awami League government adopted a resolution to initiate the establishment of a civilian court, which led to the 2009 amendment of the ICTA. In March 2010, the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) was set up and its Rules of Procedure were adopted on 15 July 2010.

The ICT has generated criticism from the international community, including the UN Working Group on arbitrary detention, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the US Ambassador-at-large for War Crimes Issues. This criticism mainly addresses the lack of fair trial standards. The European Union has also voiced its concern with regards to the potential application of the death penalty.

LIMITATIONS TO THE TRIAL OF INTERNATIONAL CRIMES

Several legislative and executive orders granted immunity to groups involved in the 1971 Liberation War. In February 1973, shortly before the ICTA, the Bangladesh National Liberation Struggle (Indemnity) Order granted immunity to all freedom fighters for acts committed in connection with the “Liberation Struggle”. On 30 November 1973, a general amnesty was declared for all Bangladesh citizens who had collaborated with the Pakistan Army, with the exception of those accused of murder, rape, arson or genocide. Finally, the early 1974 tripartite agreement organised the return of Pakistani prisoners of wars, including those accused of committing war crimes, without charging them.

The ICTA was, however, never repealed. It provides for the prosecution of Bangladeshi nationals who were not granted immunity for international crimes committed during the Liberation War.