British Muslim leader faces death penalty over war crimes in Bangladesh

Last Updated: Sun, Oct 14, 2012 08:30 hrs

One of Britain's most important Muslim leaders, who has a senior position in the country's National Health Service (NHS), is being charged with 18 murders by a war crimes tribunal in his native Bangladesh, investigators said.

Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin, who is the director of Muslim Spiritual Care Provision in the NHS and is also the chairman of the Multi-Faith Group for Healthcare Chaplaincy, is accused of abducting, torturing and killing 18 journalists, academics and doctors during the bloody war of independence in Bangladesh in 1971.

Mueen-Uddin, 63, who strongly denies the allegations, is believed to have fled to Bangladesh shortly after the war ended, and has been living in London since the early 70s.

According to the Daily Mail, Bangladesh's International Crimes Tribunal (ICT), which has been set up to try the country's most notorious war criminals still alive, has announced that it has completed its year-long investigation into Mueen-Uddin's charges.

The ICT's prosecution wing will announce formal charges against him in the next few days, a senior official at the tribunal said.

Sanaul Huq, the Inspector-General of Bangladesh's national police force, who is co-ordinating the ICT investigation, said his investigators believe that Mueen-Uddin killed dozens of people during the independence war, but they can link him only to 18 murders with evidence and eyewitness testimonies.

The ICT said Mueen-Uddin and his associates allegedly subjected their victims to horrendous torture before killing them and dumping their bodies in sports grounds which earned the nickname 'killing fields'.

Investigators said that during the Bangladesh civil war, Mueen-Uddin was a member of an Islamic terrorist group which abducted and killed leading Pakistani independence figures

Mueen-Uddin declined to respond to the allegations, but his lawyer Toby Cadman, a barrister at 9 Bedford Row International, said: "As no formal allegations have thus far been put to Mr Mueen-Uddin it would be highly inappropriate for any formal response to be issued to the media".

"This is a matter sub judice and therefore any and all media comment on the nature of the allegations, the strength of the evidence and the eventual outcome of the proceedings is to be avoided. It would be inappropriate at this stage to comment on the substance of the allegations. However, any and all allegations that Mr Mueen-Uddin committed or participated in any criminal conduct during the Liberation War of 1971 have been strongly denied in the past and will continue to be strongly denied in their entirety," he added. (ANI)

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