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Islamist leader sentenced to death in Bangladesh
Wednesday July 17, 2013 5:27 PM, IANS

Two days after awarding life imprisonment till death to the ex-chief of Jamaat-e-Islami, a Bangladeshi tribunal Wednesday issued death penalty to another party leader for crimes during the war of independence in 1971.

The International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) pronounced the verdict here on a crime against humanity case, awarding death sentence to the Jamaat's Secretary General Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed who is now behind the bar.

Justice Obaidul Hassan announced that five out of seven charges, which include murder, genocide and conspiracy to kill intellectuals during the 1971 war, against him have been proved.

According to the verdict, the 65-year-old Jamaat leader, who led the Al-Badr, received death penalty for three charges and life sentence and five-year imprisonment for two others.

Al-Badr was an auxiliary force of the Pakistani army which planned and executed the killing of Bengali intellectuals at the fag end of the war which led to then East Pakistan breaking away from its western wing to become an independent country called Bangladesh.

The three-member panel read the summary of the 209-page verdict at a packed court room.

Security has been beefed up across Dhaka, especially at key points of the city as the Jamaat enforced a dawn-to-dusk hartal for the third straight day in protest against the verdicts.

The latest verdict came two days after the court awarded the sentence of 90 years imprisonment to Ghulam Azam, one of the most high profile leaders of the party, for war crimes including mass killings.

Prosecutor Ziad Al-Mamun expressed deep satisfaction with the verdict against Mojaheed.

But Defense Counselor Saifur Rahman, who seemed unpleased, told reporters that they would appeal in the apex court against the verdict.

After returning to power in January 2009, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the daughter of Bangladesh's independence hero Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, established the first tribunal in March 2010, almost 40 years after the 1971 fight for independence from Pakistan to try those who committed crimes against humanity during the nine-month war.

The two tribunals dealing with the war crime cases has also delivered verdicts in four cases. One former and two current leaders of Jamaat were sentenced to death while another received life imprisonment.

Apart from Jamaat high-ups, two leaders of main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) are also facing trial.

Both the BNP and Jamaat have dismissed the court as a government "show trial".

At least nine people, including six Jamaat men, were killed and hundreds injured in riots since Monday surrounding war crimes verdicts.

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