DHAKA - A founding member of the umbrella Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) was indicted Thursday, May 2, by a Bangladeshi tribunal for alleged role in committing genocide and war crimes during Bangladesh's independence war.
Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin "has been indicted for crimes against humanity and genocide," State prosecutor Syed Haider Ali told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
"The charges include the killing of the country's top intellectuals during the 1971 war of liberation.
The war crimes tribunal accuses Mueen-Uddin of committing war crimes during the Bangladeshi war to secede from Pakistan.
Prosecutors say the British Muslim leader was a member of the Islamist Jamaat-e-Islami party and the Badr militia to keep Bangladesh a part of Pakistan.
He is facing a total of 16 charges, including accusations of kidnapping and torture and the murder of 18 top university teachers, journalists and writers.
"The court has taken into cognisance the charges of war crimes against Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin and issued a warrant to arrest him," tribunal register Nasiruddin Mahmud told AFP.
The court also indicted US citizen Ashrafuzzaman Khan on the same charges as Mueen-Uddin.
Thursday's verdict is the latest of controversial rulings against Islamist leaders on alleged charges of war crimes in Bangladesh.
In March, Jamaat-e-Islami leader Delwar Hossain Sayedee was sentenced to death on charges of committing war crimes during the independence war.
The verdict drew widespread condemnations from Muslims worldwide and triggered deadly protests in Bangladesh, which left at least 200 people dead.
The former East Pakistan declared independence from Islamabad in December 1971 at the end of a nine-month civil war in which the government says three million people were killed.
Independent estimates put the figure much lower.
A dozen of defendants are being tried by the Dhaka-based International Crimes Tribunal, which was set up in March 2010, over their alleged role in the war.
But all the defendants are either members of the Jamaat-e-Islami party or of the main opposition Bangladesh National Party (BNP), prompting accusations that the process is politically-driven.
But the British community leader has rejected Bangladeshi charges of committing war crimes.
"Bangladesh will be required to establish that there is a prima facie case against Mr Mueen-Uddin," said lawyer Toby Cadman in a statement to AFP.
He said his client "rejects all these allegations in their entirety, raising doubts whether Britain would agree to extradite the Muslim leader.
"They will also be required to give an undertaking that Mr Mueen-Uddin will not receive the death penalty."
Under British law, no-one can be extradited if they face capital punishment.
"It is quite clear that, without wishing to prejudice any future proceedings, the death penalty and fair trial considerations will be considerable hurdles," his lawyer told the BBC.
Born in 1948, Mueen-Uddin is Vice-chairman of East London Mosque and London Muslim Center.
His is also a trustee of the UK charity Muslim Aid and played a prominent role in setting up the umbrella Muslim Council of Britain.
Mueen-Uddin is also the director of Muslim Spiritual Care Provision in the UK's National Health Service
He was a journalist at the Daily Purbodesh newspaper when what was then East Pakistan broke away from West Pakistan.Britain is home to a Muslim minority of nearly 2.8 million.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net