More Petain then Eichmann – The Economist gets it wrong with war crimes in B’desh

In the Economist editorial of the 23rd of March edition on Justice in Bangladesh it gets it wrong with its comparison with the Eichmann trial as its more like Marshal Petain when making comparison with war crimes cases proceeding in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

I made this point in a recent letter l wrote to the Economist, which l was hoping would get published in this weeks edition;

Dear Economist Editor,

Eichmann is the wrong comparison to make with war criminals cases in Dhaka in your editorial of the 23rd March 2013 on Justice in Bangladesh – Another kind of crime.
Jamaat-e-Islami and its off-shoots were local collaborators for the Pakistan army in the struggle for Bangladesh like Marshall Petain of Vichy Republic with the Nazi in France during the second world war who after the war was convicted for treason, given a death sentence and then pardon.
Its always far more difficult dealing with your own kind like fellow Bengalis who were involved in the atrocities, hence the deep bitterness and why it needs to be dealt with before the nation can move on even if it means retrials.
So its more Marshal Petain then Eichmann.

Murad Qureshi,

27th March 2013

Saying this, l am not sure the Eichmann trial can be held up as a model of due processes as is suggested by the Economists anyway. At the outset we have of course his hijacking from Argentina which caused an international dispute over capture going as far as the UN Security Council. Without going into the details of the hijacking itself ( its been subject to many books & a film), it makes the rendition flights of today look tame in comparison.

Furthermore the legal basis of the charges against Eichmann was the 1950 Nazi & Nazi Collaborators( Punishment) law. Thus the claim of Israel’s jurisdiction were controversial to say the least as Eichmann’s acts did not occur on Israeli soil, and actually happened before Israel came into existence.

The trial also had many instances of “reversible error and procedural irregularities,” which would not have held up to an appeal in a standard legal trial. For example, Eichmann’s defense team was not permitted access to all of the evidence used. Moreover witnesses for the defense, all of them former high-ranking Nazi, were promised immunity and safe conduct from their German & Austrian homes to testify in Jerusalem on Eichmann’s behalf, refused to travel to Israel.

So before the Economist begins lecturing Bangladesh about how it should conduct the war trials in Dhaka at present, it needs to get the facts straight with the comparison it makes and indeed make the right comparison in the first place.





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