A former Bangladeshi opposition politician, Ghulam Azam, is on trial for crimes against humanity committed more than 40 years ago.
The 89-year-old Azam cannot walk, cannot see, nor can he really hear. Yet he has 10 armed police officers watching him at all times.
The country's war crimes tribunal believes he collaborated with Pakistan's army, orchestrating mass killings during Bangladesh's 1971 war of independence from Pakistan.
Officials say three million people died in the nine-month-long conflict.
Sheikh Hasina Wajed, the Bangladeshi prime minister, has made the prosecution of war criminals part of her election manifesto. Her government is determined to fulfil its pledge.
A recent hearing by the UN working group on arbitrary detentions concluded the detention of Azam and others as arbitrary and in breach of international law.
However, Shaufiq Ahmed, the Bangladesh law minister, rejects the accusation. "This tribunal is not an international war crimes tribunal, this is a domestic tribunal," he said.
"Those who have been arrested are facing trial, so it's not an illegal detention."
If found guilty Azam will face the death penalty. Whatever the decision the court comes to, it will have dramatic consequences. It may bring justice to many but at the cost of throwing Bangladesh into further political instability.
|< Prev||Next >|
Other articles in Central/S. Asia
Bangladesh MP sentenced to death 01 October 2013
Sharif and Singh aim to ease Kashmir tensions 29 September 2013
Blast kills dozens in Pakistan's Peshawar 29 September 2013
India ends building crash rescue operation 29 September 2013
India calls Pakistan 'epicentre of terrorism' 29 September 2013
Death toll rises in Mumbai building collapse 28 September 2013
New earthquake strikes Pakistan's Balochistan 28 September 2013
Relief slow to reach Pakistan quake victims 27 September 2013
Deadly building collapse in Mumbai 27 September 2013
Deaths in Pakistan bus blast 27 September 2013
|Timothy V. Gatto|