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Bangladesh court sentences opposition politician to death for war crimes

Bangladesh's International Crimes Tribunal has sentenced Salauddin Quader Chowdhury to death after convictions on "nine charges of war crimes including genocide." The charges date back to the 1971 war of independence.

A three-member panel of judges in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka on Tuesday convicted Salauddin Quader Chowdhury (pictured in an archive photo) on war crimes charges, including genocide, dating back to the war for independence from Pakistan in 1971.

Attorney General Mahbubey Alam told the AFP news agency that Chowdhury, a sitting lawmaker, was "found guilty of nine charges of war crimes including genocide."

Among other crimes, Chowdhury was charged with killing some 200 civilians and collaborating with Pakistan's army to kill and torture unarmed people.

Chowdhury, 64, is a leading member of the main opposition Bangladesh National Party (BNP).

Security precautions

Authorities deployed security forces in Dhaka and in Chowdhury's home city ahead of the verdict. Previous verdicts by the tribunal this year led to public protests, riots, and more than 100 deaths.

Bangladesh's International Crimes Tribunal (ICT), set up in 2009 after the Awami League won a resounding parliamentary majority at a general election in the previous year, has so far convicted seven people.

The first six were members of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, Bangladesh's largest Islamist party that opposed independence from Pakistan.

The BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami have criticized the tribunal, saying it has become a means for the Awami League to get rid of its competition ahead of January elections.

Official estimates suggest roughly 3 million people were killed and 200,000 women raped during Bangladesh's war for independence in 1971.

msh/ipj (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)