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Bangladesh sentences to death six 1971 war crimes accused

PTI | Dhaka |

A special Bangladeshi tribunal today sentenced to death six hardline Islamists, including a former lawmaker, for committing crimes against humanity and siding with the Pakistani troops in carrying out the genocide in 1971.

A three-judge panel of Bangladesh’s International Crimes Tribunal (ICT-BD) handed down the capital punishment to the six members of the Jamaat-e-Islami saying, the charges against them were “proved beyond doubt.”

“They have convicted accordingly and sentenced there under to death under section 20(2) of the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act, 1973,” pronounced chair of the panel Justice Shahinur Islam.

The verdict came as Bangladesh nearly completed the long-delayed trial of 1971 war crimes since the high-powered tribunal was established in 2010.

The tribunal is charged with the task to try persons responsible for committing genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and other crimes under international law committed during the country’s 1971 Liberation War.

The six men sentenced to death hail from northwestern Gaibandha and belong to fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami, the party which was opposed to Bangladesh’s 1971 independence and joined hands with Pakistani troops in carrying out the genocide.

But only one of the six convicts faced the trial in person while the rest, including former Jamaat lawmaker Abu Saleh Mohammad Abdul Aziz Mia, was tried in absentia as they were on the run.

Under a special law, the convicts, however, could challenge the judgement before the apex Appellate Division of the Supreme Court.

Bangladesh has so far executed six 1971 war crimes convicts, five of them Jamaat leaders and one Bangladesh Nationalist Party leader, the main Opposition since the trial process began in 2010.