Top Jamaat Leader Jailed For Life In Bangladesh; Riots Follow

DHAKA (TIP): A top leader of Bangladesh’s fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami was today sentenced to life by a special tribunal here for “crime against humanity” committed during the 1971independence war against Pakistan,sparking riots that claimed at least one life.”He (Abdul Kader Mollah) will servelife term,” said chairman of the threememberInternational Crimes TribunalJustice Obaidul Hassan.Mollah, assistant secretary general ofthe right-wing Jamaat-e-Islami, wasproduced before the court under heavysecurity escort from Dhaka CentralJail.The tribunal said five of the sixcharges against Mollah were provedduring the trial.

Court officials said that under theBangladeshi law 65-year-old Mollahwould need to serve 30 years in jail asthe Penal Code suggests this timeframeto be treated as life term.Mollah sat quietly in the dock as thejudgement was being delivered andjumped to his feet as soon as the verdictwas pronounced and shouted claiminginnocence.”This verdict is fabricated and I willfile a case (appeal) against it for sure,”he screamed as the police took himaway to be shifted to Dhaka CentralJail. Violence gripped the capital Dhakaand several other major cities after theverdict.

Police said a man was shot dead inclashes between JI activists insoutheastern Chittagong.Incidentally, rival activists also tookto the street demanding a revision ofthe trial and death penalty for Mollah.The judgment came as the JIenforced a nationwide general strikedemanding halt of the trial of their topseven leaders for 1971 war crimes sidingwith Pakistani troops while the extremeright-wing party called for a shutdowntomorrow for the “politically motivatedand government directed judgment”.

This was the second such judgmentby the tribunal in less than three weeksafter it awarded death penalty tofugitive Abul Kalam Azad, an anchor ofIslamic programmes in a private TVchannel and former or expelled JIleader, on January 17.Mollah was arrested on July 13, 2010,along with fellow party leaderMuhammad Qamaruzzaman from infront of the Supreme Court premises toface justice as alleged perpetrators ofcrimes against humanity in 1971.

The tribunal indicted him on May 28,2012 on six specific charges for activelyparticipating, facilitating, aiding andsubstantially contributing to the attackdirected upon the unarmed civilians,”causing commission of the horrific”genocides, murders and rapes.But the prosecution and 1971veterans said the verdict upset themsince there were specific charges ofmurders against him and in severalincidents evidence were there Mollahhimself took part in killings.Attorney general Mahbube Alam toldthe media that the verdict “upsets us aswe expected the capital punishment forthe crimes he committed”.

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