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Jamaat secretary-general gets death penalty

Bangladesh bitterly split over war crimes verdicts

Jamaat secretary-general gets death penalty

Jamaat-e-Islami supporters set a vehicle on fire in Dhaka during countrywide protests against war crimes verdicts earlier this year reporter, Dhaka

July 17, 2013

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Bangladesh’s controversial war crimes court today sentenced another top Islamist to death for crimes against humanity committed during the 1971 liberation war.

The verdict comes amid an ongoing nationwide strike and protests by supporters of Jamaat-e-Islami, the country’s largest Islamic party, which opposed independence from Pakistan. Now in its third consecutive day, the strike has seen 10 people killed and dozens injured in clashes with police.

Many Jamaat leaders stand accused of war crimes and are currently on trial or have already been sentenced.

Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid, 65, Jamaat’s secretary-general was today found of guilty of five out of seven charges including conspiracy, abduction, torture and murder.

This follows a 90-year jail term handed on Monday to former Jamaat chief and spiritual guru Ghulam Azam. 

“The charges have been proven beyond reasonable doubt,” said Justice Obaidul Hassan, the chief of a three-judge panel, while delivering today's verdict in a packed courtroom in Dhaka.

Mujahid was accused of heading the infamous Al-Badr militia, a force that helped the invading Pakistan army to orchestrate atrocities against Bengali nationalists and civilians. This included the killing of about 200 pro-liberation Bengali intellectuals.

 “Mujahid was given death penalty for three charges and life sentences for two,” MK Rahman, deputy attorney general and coordinator of the war crimes tribunal, told reporters in Dhaka.

Families of the murdered intellectuals welcomed the verdict, saying it ends their long wait for justice.

“The verdict against the man behind killing our dear ones consoles us, although it can’t bring them back,” said Shahin Reza Noor, a witness and the eldest son of Sirajuddin Hossain, a prominent journalist who was abducted by the Al-Badr militia and never seen again.

Mujahid’s chief defense lawyer Abdur Razzaq said the tribunal failed to deliver justice.

“This is a wrong verdict,” he said, “The tribunal failed to evaluate customary law and the evidence properly. We will appeal against this judgment.”

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