Tribunal orders execution of top Bangladesh Islamist
Senior member of hardline party condemned to death
Bangladeshi protesters call for the death penalty for crimes during protests earlier this year
A Bangladeshi war crimes court issued a warrant on Sunday for the execution of a top Islamist leader convicted of crimes against humanity during the country’s 1971 war of liberation from Pakistan.
The execution order for Abdul Kader Mollah, assistant secretary-general of the hardline Islamist Jamaat-e-Islami party was delivered to authorities at the central jail in Dhaka, said Muhammad Farman Ali, senior jail superintendent.
“We received the copy of the order at around 4:15 pm and read it out to him [Mollah]. We also told him that he could request clemency from the president,” Ali said.
Mollah was handed a life sentence in February for war crimes including torture, killing, abduction and arson, which sparked a series of protests over several months, demanding death sentences for him and all others convicted of war crimes.
Amid pressure, the Awami League government changed the war crimes law in parliament that allowed the state to appeal against any verdict deemed inadequate.
Both state and defense lawyers appealed against the verdict in the Supreme Court. In September, the court rejected Mollah’s appeal and increased the sentence to death.
The War Crimes Tribunal-2, one of the two courts prosecuting people for wartime abuses, sent out the execution order after receiving the full text of the court verdict on Mollah’s judgment, officials said.
State and defense lawyers are still in dispute whether Mollah could be executed or whether he can file a review petition.
“There is no legal barrier to execute Kader Mollah now. He has lost his appeal in the Supreme Court and the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act of 1973, does not allow him to file a review petition,” said MK Rahman, a state prosecutor.
Defense lawyer Abdur Razzak said a review petition is Mollah’s constitutional right.
Jamaat-e-Islami has reacted angrily to the execution order and called for a nationwide strike for Monday.
Jamaat opposed Bangladesh independence and its entire leadership stands accused of committing war crimes for collaborating with the Pakistan army by forming militia groups.
Instituted in 2010, the war crimes tribunal has sentenced eight Jamaat leaders either to death or life sentences. Several politicians, mostly from Jamaat, are still awaiting trial.
Despite the support of most Bangladeshis, the tribunal has been criticized by rights groups such as New York-based Human Rights Watch, which said it falls short of international standards.
“Human Rights Watch opposes the death penalty in all circumstances as an irreversible, degrading and cruel punishment,” said Brad Adams, Asia director said in a statement on Sunday.
“It is particularly reprehensible in cases where laws were retroactively passed in order to enable the death penalty, and where the right to appeal against such a final judgment is not allowed.”
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