Bangladesh Islamist sentenced to life in prison for war crimes

Tue Feb 5, 2013 7:32am EST
 

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, 64, 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 skirmished with police in the capital, Dhaka, and other towns after the verdict. Police opened fire and used truncheons during demonstrations in the southeastern city of Chittagong and one person was killed, 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 judgment 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.

Jamaat's acting Secretary-General Rafiqul Islam Khan, denounced the verdict as dictated by authorities.

"It is a state-managed judgment," he said in a statement. "The tribunal pronounced the verdict as per the instruction of the government."   Continued...

 
Bangladesh's Jamaat-e-Islami leader Abdul Quader Mollah gestures as he talks from a police van after a war crimes tribunal sentenced him to life imprisonment in Dhaka February 5, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer