Bangladesh upholds death penalty for Islamist party chief

Dhaka, Jan 6 (IANS) Bangladesh’s apex court on Wednesday upheld the death penalty awarded to Islamist party chief Motiur Rahman Nizami for war crimes during the country’s liberation struggle in 1971.

A four-member bench of the Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha delivered the verdict, Xinhua reported.

Nizami, 73, president of the Jamaat-e-Islami Party, served as agriculture and industries minister in Khaleda Zia’s 2001-2006 cabinet.

The court upheld capital penalty for the party chief on three charges and life imprisonment on two charges.

On October 29, the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT-1) handed down capital punishment to Nizami for war crimes which include mass killings of intellectuals.

Nizami was indicted in 2012 with 16 charges of crimes against humanity, including looting, mass killings, arson, rape and forcefully converting people to Islam during the 1971 war.

The indictment order said Nizami was a key organiser of the al-Badr, an auxiliary force of then Pakistani army which planned and executed the killing of Bengali intellectuals at the end of the war.

Nizami is among the top Jamaat leaders who have been tried in war crimes tribunals formed by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasian’s Bangladesh Awami League-led government in 2010.

Three Jamaat leaders — Abdul Quader Molla, Muhammad Kamaruzzaman and Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid — have been executed.

Apart from them, Jamaat Secretary General Mujahid and opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) leader Salaudin Quader Chowdhury were hanged on November 22.

Both BNP and Jamaat have dismissed the court as a government “show trial”, saying it was a domestic set-up without the oversight or involvement of the UN.

Muslim-majority Bangladesh was called East Pakistan till 1971. The government of Hasina said about three million people were killed in the war although independent researchers think that between 300,000 and 500,000 died.

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