September 23, 2013

BANGLADESH: Islamic Leader Convicted Of War Crimes Life Sentence Revised To Death

Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, previously known as Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh, and Jamaat for short, is the largest Islamist political party in Bangladesh.

Jamaat was created in 1941 in British India by Maulana Maududi. It became the main Islamist political party in both Pakistan and India after the Partition of India in 1947. It had opposed the partition but eventually supported the Muslim state of Pakistan.

The Jamaat stood against the independence of Bangladesh and opposed the break-up of Pakistan. It collaborated with the Pakistani Army in its operations against Bengali nationalists, intellectuals and minority Hindus. Many of its leaders and activists participated in paramilitary forces that were implicated in war crimes, such as mass murder, especially of Hindus, rape and forced conversions of Hindus to Islam. Jamaat-e-Islami members led the formation of the Shanti Committee, and the Razakar and Al-Badr paramilitary forces.

Upon the independence of Bangladesh in 1971, the new government banned Jamaat from political participation and its leaders went into exile in Pakistan. Following the assassination of the first president and the military coup that brought Maj. Gen. Ziaur Rahman to power in Bangladesh in 1975, the ban on the Jamaat was lifted. Its leaders were allowed to return. The Jamaat agenda is the creation of an "Islamic state" with the Shariat legal system, closer relations with Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, and outlawing "un-Islamic" practices and laws. The Jamaat has been responsible for periodic attacks on Hindus and Buddhists and the Ahmadiyya Muslims. [source: wikipedia]

The Guardian UK
written by Staff
Tuesday September 17, 2013

Life sentence for Abdul Quader Mollah – found guilty of murder, rape and torture during 1971 independence war – overturned.

Bangladesh's supreme court has sentenced an Islamist leader to death for war crimes, overturning a life sentence imposed by a tribunal and triggering outrage from his lawyers and protests from his supporters.

A war crimes tribunal in February found Abdul Quader Mollah, the assistant secretary general of the outlawed Jamaat-e-Islami party, guilty of murder, rape and torture during the 1971 war of independence from Pakistan.

The life sentence imposed at the time also triggered protests by people hoping he would get the death penalty. In response, parliament amended a law to allow the state to appeal against any verdict or sentence passed by the tribunal.

Bangladesh has been hit in recent months by a wave of violent protests over war crimes convictions, presenting the government with a security and credibility challenge in the run-up to elections early next year.

More than 100 people have been killed in protests and counter-protests since January.

Mollah's lawyer Abdur Razzak dismissed Tuesday's sentence as politically motivated and said the defence would file a petition for a review, but the attorney general, Mahbube Alam, said a review was not an option under the constitution.

"This decision over which the accused now has no further right of appeal or review is in clear breach of international law," Mollah's international legal team said in a statement.

"It lends further weight to calls for the war crimes trials to be condemned and replaced by a credible, international criminal tribunal under the auspices of the United Nations."

Several Jamaat leaders and two from the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist party (BNP) are still on trial at the tribunal. The New York-based Human Rights Watch group has said the tribunal's procedures fall short of international standards.

Jamaat activists skirmished with police in several towns, including the port of Chittagong, after the death sentence was announced. Five police were wounded in Chittagong when activists set fire to a police car and exploded crude bombs.

The war trials have angered Islamists and the BNP, who call them a politically motivated bid to persecute the leadership of Jamaat. The government has denied the charges.

Paramilitary troops have been deployed in Bogra, where previous war crimes verdicts sparked violent protests by Islamists, police said. The city is a political stronghold of the BNP leader, Begum Khaleda Zia, an arch-rival of the prime minister, Sheikh Hasina.

Jamaat called for a 48-hour countrywide strike from Wednesday.

In July, a court declared Jamaat-e-Islami illegal, effectively banning it from the election. Six party leaders have been convicted of various crimes in connection with the war.

Mollah's party opposed Bangladeshi independence from Pakistan in the 1971 war but it denies accusations that its leaders committed murder, rape and torture.

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