World 23.8.2016 01:26 pm

Bangladesh police abduct top Islamist leader’s son – family

Abdullahil Amaan Azmi. Picture: www.thedailystar.net

Abdullahil Amaan Azmi. Picture: www.thedailystar.net

Police have abducted the son of a top Bangladeshi war crimes convict, his family said Tuesday, the latest in a series of forced disappearances of opposition leaders’ children.

More than 30 plainclothes officers seized Abdullahil Amaan Azmi, formerly a decorated brigadier general in Bangladesh’s powerful army, from his home in the capital Dhaka on Monday evening, his family said in a statement.

“The officers cordoned off the whole street before breaking down the door and forcibly entering the family home, blindfolding the caretaker and severely beating him until he fell unconscious,” the statement said.

The police had no warrant and gave no reason for arresting Azmi, the family said.

“No official acknowledgement of his arrest has yet been made, without which there are credible fears for a possible extrajudicial abduction,” the statement said.

Azmi’s father Ghulam Azam, the former head of Bangladesh’s largest Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI), was sentenced to 90 years in prison in 2013 for war crimes during the 1971 independence war against Pakistan. He died in prison in 2014.

The alleged abduction came weeks after similar incidents — involving two other sons of opposition leaders convicted of war crimes — which were blamed on plainclothes policemen in Dhaka.

“We don’t know anything about these incidents,” a national police spokesman told AFP.

Bangladesh’s highest court is also set to decide the fate of another top Islamist leader who was sentenced to death in 2014 for war crimes.

If Mir Quasem Ali, who was a top financier of the JeI, loses his final appeal, with hearings expected to start Wednesday, he will be executed within weeks.

His son Mir Ahmed Bin Quasem, who was part of his legal defence team, was allegedly abducted earlier in August.

Critics say the abductions are an attempt by police to sow fear and prevent Islamists from staging protests against Ali’s imminent execution.

“The government must investigate (the families’) claims. Unfortunately there has been no visible move to find out their whereabouts,” leading rights activist Nur Khan Liton told AFP.

The United Nations on Tuesday urged the government to annul Ali’s death sentence and to give him a retrial in compliance with international standards.

Five opposition leaders, including four top Islamists, have been executed for war crimes in the past three years despite rights groups’ criticisms that their trials were flawed.

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