Many of the most serious perpetrators are either dead or in Pakistan, where they fled after the war. But the fact some of them continued to participate in the country's political life for decades after the war rightly concerns many Bangladeshis. This also means that it is nearly impossible to separate the trial from current partisan maneuverings.
Over the past forty years, Bangladeshi politics has remained split between more conservative pro-Pakistan forces, who support a vision of Bangladesh as an Islamic nation above all else, and those who favor a country with a more secular, distinctly Bengali identity.
The December 11 resignation of Justice Nizamul Huq, one of the three senior judges presiding over the trial, is only the most recent plot twist in the trial's stormy course. He stepped down just days after The Economist acquired 17 hours of leaked Skype conversations and hundreds of e-mails that passed between him and a Brussels-based legal expert, Ahmed Ziauddin.
According to the documents, Huq told his friend that the government is "absolutely crazy for a judgment. The government has gone totally mad. They have gone completely mad, I am telling you. They want a judgment by 16th December... It's as simple as that."
The exasperated judge appears to have sought help from Ziaudinn on how to nail down quick convictions. Ziauddin even allegedly helped the judge to draw up indictments.
Huq told Ziauddin that a government minister "came to visit me this evening. He asked me to pass this verdict fast. I told him ‘how can I do that?'... He said, ‘Try as quick as you can.'" How the material was leaked is still unclear.
Defense lawyer Abdur Razzaq, a member of Jamaat, says that the revelations "seriously questioned the integrity of the court, through executive interference to the highest degree."
This could be the "tip of the iceberg," Razzaq adds, "because we do not know what conversations they had with the other judges."