DHAKA: Bangladeshi prosecutors have filed war crimes charges against a second opposition leader, accusing him of genocide and murder during the country's 1971 liberation struggle, an official said Tuesday.
Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury, a senior lawmaker with the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, has also been accused of looting and facilitating rape, prosecutor Syed Haider Ali said.
"Investigators have found compelling evidence of war crimes against him. We filed charges against him late Monday and the International Crimes Tribunal will now decide whether to accept the charges," he told AFP.
The tribunal, created last year to try people suspected of atrocities during the independence campaign from Pakistan, is a domestic set-up and is not endorsed by the United Nations. Opposition parties have dismissed it as a sham.
Ali said Chowdhury -- the highest ranking BNP lawmaker to be investigated by the tribunal -- is directly implicated in the murder of a high-profile Hindu businessman.
"We have found evidence that he turned his father's Chittagong residence as a torture cell during the war," Ali said, adding Chowdhury's father was a strong supporter of Pakistan and opposed then-East Pakistan's secession.
Last month, the tribunal charged its first suspect -- Delawar Hossain Sayedee, a leader of an Islamic party -- with atrocities including genocide, rape and religious persecution.
Sayedee is being held in detention along with four other suspects from his Jamaat-e-Islami party and two more, including Chowdhury, from the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).
Both parties -- which ruled in coalition from 2001 to 2006 -- have dismissed the tribunal as a government "show trial", while the New York-based group Human Rights Watch has said legal procedures fall short of international standards.
Bangladesh's government claims some three million people were killed during the nine-month long struggle. Independent researchers say the figure is far lower.