During the first years of independence the authorities under Mujib Rahman seemed readier to move against left-wing dissidents than against the pro-Pakistan leaders, who benefitted by an amnesty. The International Crimes Tribunal Act of 1973 brought about a legal procedure to prosecute war criminals, but with the assassination of Sheikh Mujib two years later, followed by decades of maneuvre and indemnity, it seemed to remain a dead letter, until now.

Mr. Golam Arif Tipu, lead prosecutor in the tria of Jamaat e Islam leadersl, said it a was red-letter day, reports the Indian daily, the Statesman: “It appeared that the four are crucially needed to be kept in confinement as the special investigation agency has already gathered evidence against the four. They were found to be involved in gruesome crimes like genocide, killing, torture, arson and forcing exodus during the Liberation War.”

Here in London, Jamaat e Islam representatives appear to have been warned that the long-awaited arm of the law was reaching for their leaders. They held a meeting with lawyers on June 30 to discuss the International Crimes Tribunal Act and its implications.

Left-wing Bangladeshis have long complained of the way Jama'a e Islami has been allowed to establish itself in the community here, around the East London mosque, with even alleged war criminals obtaining positions where they can miseducate young people. Jama'at is not on the British or US government's "terror" lists, and it has allegedly enjoyed official recognition through the Muslim Council of Britain, as well as co-operation from supposedly left-wing elements such as George Galloway's Respect.

Should the Bangladeshi government decide to seek anyone's extradition, it could prove embarrassing for some people, or would if embarrassment was an emotion they ever displayed.