Law Minister Barrister Shafique Ahmed yesterday said that the main trial-procedure of the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) would begin within this month or in January, 2011.
He said this after his address to the International Criminal Legal Tools Project Programme at the Liberation War Museum in the capital.
ICT arranged the function where Norwegian Centre for Human Rights (NCHR), principal partner of the International Criminal Court (ICC), conducted a presentation with a view to strengthening capacity of the Tribunal and its prosecutors and investigators on legal text, documents, judgment, commentaries and database.
In a query whether the government would take ICC assistance to put under trial the 195 Pakistani war criminals, freed in the trilateral 'Simla' accord, Barrister Shafique said, "We had ratified the treaty, it is now past. We can’t take the matter to the ICC."
The law minister said, "All the war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity will be tried under the ICT."
The war crimes trial was not held in the last 40 years, the law minister said, adding, the government wants to hold the trial now for some reasons that include: the government is committed to hold the trail; it believes in rule of law through materialising expectations of the 1971 victims; it wants to end the shameful legacy; it wants to be free from culture of forgiving.
He said the ICT prosecutors and investigators would be benefited from the training programme.
At the main function, State Minister Quamrul Islam said, "The 195 Pakistani war criminals were freed under the Simla Accord in 1973. According the treaty's rules, Pakistan government was supposed to hold trial of the criminals bringing them back in the country, but it violated the treaty's condition through not holding the trial."
"We are committed to hold trail of our country's war criminals," he said, adding, an act was enacted in 1973 to hold their trial but after the assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujubur Rahman, former President Ziaur Rahman had closed the way of holding the trail.
"We want to hold the trial with international standard and in a way so that the trial could not be questioned," he added. "In this regard, the act of 1973 was amended in 2009."
ICT Registrar Md Shahinur Islam conducted the training programme, which was attended, among others, by the Law Minister, the State Minister for Law, Norwegian Ambassador in Bangladesh Ragne Birte Lund, the ICT's Deputy Registrar, prosecutors, investigators and NCHR's Ilia Utmelidze, who conducted the legal tools presentation session.
Ilia Utmelidze told reporters that the function would increase capacity of the ICT to hold trail.
In a query on how the trial should be held in Bangladesh where the matter is debated, he said, "I am first time in Bangladesh; I don't know the political history of the country."