Top Bangladesh opposition leader held for ‘war crimes’

Sunday, December 19, 2010

DHAKA - Bangladesh’s senior opposition leader Salauddin Quader Choudhury, who has been accused of killing over a 100 people, mostly minority Hindus, during the 1971 Liberation War was arrested Sunday after the country’s International Crimes Tribunal issued a warrant against him.

Choudhury, a member of the Standing Committee of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), was detained on a murder charge. The lawmaker leads the Islamists within the party.

The tribunal’s investigators sought permission to detain Choudhury for his alleged involvement in the killings of Nutan Chandra Kundu, the founder of the herbal medicine factory Kundeshwari Oushadhalaya at Raozan in Chittagong, April 13, 1971, and 107 others during the Liberation War.

Although various probe teams and media reports allege Choudhury’s involvement in the “war crimes” some four decades ago, he has denied them, saying the charges were politically motivated.

Chief Prosecutor Ghulam Arieff Tipoo told reporters that Choudhury will remain in custody until the probe against him is completed.

A dawn-to-dusk strike called in Chittagong, the country’s main port town and Choudhury’s political stronghold, passed off peacefully.

The authorities arrested many BNP activists and prevented them from gathering in large numbers, The Daily Star reported on its website.

Choudhury is considered close to BNP chief and former prime minister Khaleda Zia, who left Saturday for a visit to China.

She endorsed the strike call and demanded that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, her main political rival, step down.

The country was “in danger”, Zia told the media before leaving for Beijing.

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