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Bangladesh executes Islamist leader Mollah

Bangladesh has executed the Islamist leader Abdul Quader Mollah. Earlier in the day, the country's highest court had rejected an appeal that sought to review his death sentence.

Bangladesh executed the Islamist leader Abdul Quader Mollah late Thursday.

Earlier in the day, a five-judge panel dismissed Mollah's appeal to have his death sentence reviewed, clearing the way for his execution. People who had gathered outside of the Supreme Court in the capital city, Dhaka (pictured above), cheered the judges' decision.

"There is now no legal bar to execute him," Attorney General Mahbubey Alam told reporters following the court's decision on Thursday.

Earlier this year,

the Islamist leader had been found guilty

of committing atrocities - including mass murder and rape - during the 1971 independence war against Pakistan. However, a last-minute

petition filed by the defense this week

delayed his execution.

The defense team had argued that the constitution enshrines rights for Mollah - dubbed "the Butcher of Mirpur" - to have his appeal heard in the Supreme Court. Bangladesh's top court rejected the petition.

"We're unhappy. He did not get justice," defense lawyer Khandaker Mahbub Hossain told reporters on Thursday.

The Reuters news agency reported that Jamaat-e-Islami in the Bangladeshi cities of Chittagong, Sylhet and Rajshahi committed acts of vandalism and set off crude bombs in protest against the court's ruling.

First execution from ICT trials

The 64-year-old was a prominent member of the Jamaat-e-Islami party. He along with

five other leaders of the same party

had been put on trial for war crimes.

Mollah's execution is the first in a series of trials by the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT).

Bangaldesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina

established the court in 2010 in an effort to bring justice to victims of the war with Pakistan four decades ago.

Jamaat-e-Islami has alleged that the trials were politically motivated. The Islamist party was a key partner in the former government of Khaleda Zila, who has been a longtime rival of Prime Minister Hasina.

Human rights groups at home and abroad have also questioned whether the tribunal meets international standards of law.

kms/pfd (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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