Bangladesh tribunal sentences Islamist leader to death | News | DW | 28.02.2013
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Bangladesh tribunal sentences Islamist leader to death

A war crimes tribunal in Bangladesh has sentenced Islamist leader Delwar Hossain Sayedee to death for crimes against humanity. More than a dozen people have died in clashes following the death sentence.

The court in the capital Dhaka found the Jamaat-e-Islami vice president guilty of mass killings, rape and other atrocities during Bangladesh's war for independence in 1971. Prosecutors reacted positively to the news on Thursday.

"The verdict has appropriately demonstrated justice. We are happy," state prosecutor Syed Haider Ali told reporters.

"Justice has been done to those who lost their loved ones at the hands of Sayedee," he said.

Delwar Hossain Sayedee is the third and the most senior politician to be convicted by the controversial tribunal.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina established the tribunal in 2010 to carry out investigations into war crimes committed during the armed conflict that claimed an estimated 3 million lives.

Critics, among them the Bangladeshi opposition, have accused the tribunal of bias and of serving as the prime minister's instrument against opponents in the two biggest opposition parties, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and the Jamaat-e-Islami.

In January, cleric Abul Kalam Azad was convicted in abstentia on charges of torture, rape and genocide in the struggle for independence. At least 10 other people are awaiting trial in similar cases.

Fighting broke out in early 1971 in a struggle for independence from Pakistan. With the aid of India, Bangladesh won its independence nine months later.

Islamist party Jamaat had called for strikes following the death sentence, with initial reports saying at least 14 people had died in clashes in Dhaka.

kms/rg (AP, Reuters)