Bangladesh Islamist's death sentence sparks deadly riots

Thu Feb 28, 2013 11:35am EST
 

By Anis Ahmed

DHAKA (Reuters) - A Bangladeshi Islamist party leader was sentenced to death on Thursday over abuses carried out during the country's independence war, triggering riots that killed at least 30 people.

Delwar Hossain Sayedee, 73, vice-president of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, was found guilty by Bangladesh's war crimes tribunal of mass killing, rape, arson, looting and forcing minority Hindus to convert to Islam during the 1971 war of separation from Pakistan, lawyers and tribunal officials said.

After he was convicted and sentenced, police clashed with activists from Sayedee's party and violence raged in more than a dozen areas around the country, police, witnesses and media reports said.

At least three policemen were among the dead and around 300 were wounded, they added.

Protesters, who said the verdict was politically motivated, set fire to a Hindu temple and several houses in southern Noakhali region, reporters said. In the southeastern region of Cox's Bazar, they attacked a police camp, killing one.

Two policemen were killed when Islamists stormed a police station at Sundarganj in northern Gaibandha district, police said. "We have been virtually besieged. It's a horrible situation," station officer Manzur Rahman told Reuters.

Members of the religious party - known simply as Jamaat - called for a national strike on Sunday and Monday, raising fears of more violence. Sayedee was the third senior party member convicted by the tribunal.

In the capital, authorities deployed extra police and paramilitary soldiers, a Home Ministry official told reporters.   Continued...

 
Delwar Hossain Sayedee (R), 73, vice-president of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, sits inside a vehicle next to a police officer on his way to a court in Dhaka February 28, 2013. A Bangladesh tribunal sentenced an Islamist party leader to death on Thursday, the third verdict by the court set up to investigate abuses during the country's independence war, and two people were killed in protests by his supporters. Sayedee was found guilty of charges of mass killing, rape, arson, looting and forcing minority Hindus to convert to Islam during the 1971 war of independence from Pakistan, lawyers and tribunal officials said. REUTERS/Stringer