First acquittal by ICT in 42 verdicts

The International Crimes Tribunal has acquitted a war crimes suspect, the first instance of acquittal by the tribunal in the 42 verdicts it has delivered.
Besides acquitting Md Abdul Latif, the tribunal on Thursday sentenced three people to prison until death and jailed five others for 20 years each for crimes like abduction, detention, torture and killing in Mymensingh’s Gafargaon and Bhaluka during the 1971 Liberation War.

The prosecution said in the charge-sheet that Latif had joined the Razakar force to collaborate with the Pakistani Army during the war. His name was found on a list of the local members of Razakar.

When the ICT investigation panel launched the investigation into the case in 2014, Latif was a vice-president of the Olama League’s Gafargaon Upazila unit.

The three-member ICT panel of judges led by Justice Md Shahinur Islam said in the verdict they were acquitting him and ordering the prison authorities to release him if he is not wanted in other cases.

In the 42 verdicts so far, the tribunal has convicted 123 accused.

Defence lawyer Abdus Sattar Palwan told that the charges against Latif included the murder of Taru Khan.

But Latif had not been among the nine people accused in a case started by Taru’s son Afaz Uddin in 1972, the lawyer said.

Besides this, Latif was 11 years old during the war, so it was impossible for him to join the Razakar force at that time, the defence argued.

Latif was born on Jun 26, 1959 at Tolali village of Pagla, according to his NID card.

Prosecutor Shahidur Rahman said they would decide about challenging the acquittal of Latif after reviewing the full verdict.