Bangladesh gives ex-MP death sentence over war crimes | News | DW | 10.08.2016
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Bangladesh gives ex-MP death sentence over war crimes

An ex-MP in Bangladesh has been sentenced to death for crimes committed during the 1971 war of liberation from Pakistan. Some of the divisons that emerged in that era of conflict are still visible in today's Bangladesh.

Editor's note: This story initially featured a photo of the Managing Director of the Western Marine Shipyard in Chittagong, Sakhawat Hossain, who was erroneously labeled as the Bangladeshi politician of the same name. We apologize for the error.

Sakhawat Hossain, an ex-Jamaat-e-Islami party member of parliament (MP) was sentenced Wednesday by a special tribunal for leading a unit that killed, raped and tortured unarmed civilians during the civil war, prosecution lawyer Ziad al Malum said.

Bangladesh says Pakistani soldiers, aided by local collaborators, killed 3 million people and raped 200,000 women during the war.

The three-member panel of judges also sentenced seven others - six in absentia - to life in prison.

Jamaat-e-Islami - the country's largest Islamist party - openly campaigned against Bangladesh's independence in 1971 and formed militia groups to help the Pakistani army fight the uprising.

The 68-year-old politician was at the time a central committee member of Islami Chhatra Sangha, the student wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami party opposed Bangladesh's secession from Pakistan. It is accused of aiding the Pakistani army in conducting atrocities against civilians during its campaign in East Pakistan, now Bangladesh. He was convicted on five counts of war crimes and of being a local commander of a group that aided Pakistani soldiers in the southwestern district of Jessore.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina set up the special tribunal in 2010 to prosecute suspected war criminals who collaborated with the Pakistani military.

It has so far convicted 34 people, including some of Jamaat-e-Islami's top leaders, with 21 sentenced to death, 12 to life in prison and one to 90 years in jail. Five have since been executed and three have died in prison.

Jamaat-e-Islami's former leader Motiur Rahman Nizami, 73, was executed in May.

Hossain subsequently left Jamaat-e-Islami and joined the Bangladesh Nationalist Party headed by former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, who was was granted bail on Wednesday after appearing in court on a string of new charges over a deadly transport blockade.

The new charges bring to 30 the number of cases against the former two-time prime minister, mostly related to alleged violence and corruption, her lawyer Masud Ahmed Talukder said.

Her party says the cases have been fabricated and are aimed at keeping Zia - who is a bitter rival of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina - under political pressure.

His lawyers said they will appeal.

jbh/jar (AP, dpa)