Verdicts stir up controversy over Bangladesh war tribunal

05 November 2014 by David Bergman

A spate of rulings against leaders of Bangladesh’s biggest Islamist opposition party for atrocities during the war in 1971 shows the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) forging ahead – despite continuing criticism from outside the country.

On Monday, Bangladesh’s Supreme Court upheld the death penalty for Mohammad Kamaruzzan, one of the current leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami, convicted by the ICT in May last year for genocide and torture. This decision comes hot on the heels of two other death sentences handed out by the ICT last week. 

On Sunday, another key figure in the party, media tycoon Mir Quasem Ali, was sentenced to be hanged by the tribunal just days after the head of Jamaat, Motiur Rahman Nizami, 71, received a similar sentence. The court found that Nizami had led the Al Badr death squad, which supported Pakistan in its fight to stop Bangladesh secession. His death sentence was for four particular offences, including the mass killing of around 450 civilians and the rape of 30 women in Pabna. Estimates of conflict casualties, most at the hands of the Pakistani military and their collaborators, range from 300,000 to 3 million. Ali and Nizami’s convictions makes for nine men so far sentenced to death by the Dhaka-based ICT, established in 2009. Another two have been given life sentences. 

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