Bangladesh Islamist sentenced to life in prison for war crimes

Tue Feb 5, 2013 4:53am EST
 
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By Anis Ahmed

DHAKA (Reuters) - A Bangladesh war crimes tribunal sentenced a senior leader of the country's biggest Islamist party to life in prison on Tuesday, the second verdict in trials that have reopened wounds about the country's independence war and sparked riots.

Abdul Quader Mollah was found guilty of charges including murder, rape, torture and arson during Bangladesh's war to break away from Pakistan in 1971.

Activists of Mollah's Jamaat-e-Islami party clashed with police in the capital, Dhaka, and other towns after the verdict and one person was killed in the eastern city of Chittagong, police and witnesses said.

The court delivered its first verdict last month, sentencing a former member of Jamaat-e-Islami and popular Islamic preacher to death, and a state prosecutor said he had been expecting the same sentence on Tuesday.

"We are not happy with the verdict and the merit of the judgement is not clear to us," said Mohammad Ali, a state prosecutor. "We wanted his death and are surprised by the lesser punishment handed out by the tribunal."

Quader Mollah made a "V" for victory sign while getting into a car after the verdict.

Bangladesh became part of Pakistan at the end of British rule in 1947 but it broke away in 1971 after a war between Bangladeshi nationalists, who were backed by India, and Pakistani forces.

Some factions in Bangladesh opposed the break with Pakistan and numerous abuses were committed during the nine-month war.   Continued...

 
Activists of Bangladesh's Jamaat-e-Islami set fire to a blanket on a street during a day-long strike in protest against the decision by country's war crimes tribunal to deliver judgement in a case against their top leader Abdul Quader Mollah, in Dhaka February 5, 2013. A controversial war crimes tribunal sentenced a senior leader of Bangladesh's biggest Islamist party to life imprisonment on Tuesday, the second verdict in ongoing trials that have reopened old wounds about the country's bloody independence struggle. Abdul Quader Mollah was found guilty of charges including murder, rape, torture and arson during Bangladesh's war to break away from Pakistan in 1971. REUTERS/Andrew Biraj