Bangladesh Islamist Leader Sentenced To Death For 1971 War Crimes

DHAKA (TIP): A special tribunal sentenced a senior leader of an Islamic political party to death on July 17 for his role in the kidnapping and killing of people involving Bangladesh’s independence war against Pakistan in 1971. The verdict came in a packed courtroom in the capital, Dhaka, in the presence of defendant Ali Ahsan Mojaheed, the secretary-general of the Jamaat-e-Islami party.

The tribunal found him guilty of kidnapping and killing a journalist, a music director and a number of other people. Mojaheed faces seven charges, including genocide, murder, conspiracy and complicity in atrocities during the war. He is accused of leading a notorious group that during the war kidnapped and killed many teachers, journalists and writers who supported the cause for independence. But the court said five charges were proven beyond doubt, while the prosecution failed to prove two other charges. The defense attorneys said they would appeal the verdict.

Two tribunals dealing with the war crimes have already delivered five verdicts against three incumbent leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami and a former chief and another expelled man of the party. Jamaat-e-Islami and its leaders had openly campaigned against the creation of Bangladesh and are accused of forming citizens’ brigades to aid Pakistani army in the battle against the fighters who fought for independence.

Bangladesh became independent with the help of India on December 16, 1971, when Pakistani army surrendered in Dhaka. Bangladesh says the Pakistani army killed 3 million people and raped 200,000 women, while about 10 million people took shelter across the border in India during the war. To denounce the verdict, Jamaat-e-Islami enforced a daylong general strike across the country on Wednesday. No major violence was reported. The party indicated that it might extend the general strike to July 18 if Mojaheed was sentenced to death.

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