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Another death ruling puts Bangladesh into chaos

Bangladesh’s highest court has upheld the death sentence of an Islamist leader for his role during 1971’s Independence war. Recently, two other Islamist leaders were also sentenced to death, infuriating their supporters.

Mohammad Kamaruzzaman

The Supreme Court on Monday upheld the death sentence of Mohammad Qamaruzzaman, for his role in mass killings during the independence war against Pakistan in 1971. The assistant secretary general of Jamaat-e-Islami, Bangladesh’s largest Islamist party, was convicted last year by the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT), set up by the Bangladesh government four years ago.

The tribunal also gave death sentences to two top leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami – Motiur Rahman Nizami and Mir Quasem Ali – for war crimes.

The ICT has so far convicted 12 people, mostly senior leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami, which had openly campaigned against independence but denied committing atrocities. Eight of those convicted were given the death penalty.

Mir Quasem Ali

Mir Quasem Ali was sentenced to the death penalty for his role in the 1971 Bangladesh Independence war

Politically motivated?

Tajul Islam, defense counsel at the ICT and a lawyer for Qamaruzzaman, told DW that the delivery of three rulings in just six days after a nine-month hiatus, had raised questions among many about the tribunal’s autonomy.

Shamsuzzaman Dudu, a leader of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), one of the country’s two major political parties, is one of those seeking answers. Talking to DW, Dudu mentioned the now infamous Skype controversy. “This is an example of how the government is intervening in the acts of the tribunal,” he said. In 2012, Skype conversations and emails between Mohammed Nizamul Huq, the then chairman of the ICT, and Ahmed Ziauddin, a Bangladeshi lawyer based in Brussels, were leaked. In the documents they were talking about the ongoing procedures of the tribunal. Following the scandal Huq resigned from his position.

More here.

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