US asks Bangladesh to hold free, fair and transparent trials

The US today asked Bangladesh to hold free, fair and transparent trails after a war crimes court sentenced a fugitive Islamic cleric to death amid allegations that the process was "politically motivated".

In its maiden verdict, the three-member International Crimes Tribunal-2 sentenced 63-year-old Abul Kalam Azad, an anchor of Islamic programmes at a private TV channel, to death on Monday.

Azad, a former member of fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami party, fled the country in April last year as he was charged with "crimes against humanity" during Bangladesh's India-backed Liberation War when he sided with Pakistani

troops in 1971.

"The United States supports bringing to justice those who

commit such crimes. However, we believe that any such trials must be free, fair, and transparent, and in accordance with domestic standards and international standards Bangladesh hasagreed to uphold through its ratification of internationalagreements, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights," State Department spokesperson VictoriaNuland said in a statement.

"As Bangladesh addresses the legacy of atrocities committed during the Liberation War and as we await further verdicts by the Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal, the United States urges the Government of Bangladesh to adhere to

the due process standards that are part of its treaty obligations, and to fully respect the rule of law," Nuland said. Earlier, Jamaat-e-Islami called the trial "politically motivated" while British National Party questioned the proceedings and found loopholes in the war crime laws.

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