Bangladesh court upholds death sentence in war-crimes case

AP News
Posted: Aug 30, 2016 1:42 AM

NEW DELHI (AP) — Bangladesh's Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected a final appeal by a top Islamist party leader convicted of war crimes in the country's independence war against Pakistan, confirming a death sentence handed down earlier by a special tribunal.

Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha turned down the appeal by Mir Quashem Ali of the Jamaat-e-Islami party in the nation's capital, Dhaka.

The decision means there is now no legal bar to executing Ali. A special tribunal dealing with war crimes sentenced Ali to death in November 2014 for abduction, torture and murder.

Defense lawyers said Tuesday that Ali and his family would decide whether to seek clemency from the president.

Attorney General Mahbubey Alam said they were happy with the verdict. At least five people have been executed since the 2010 when the special tribunal was set up to deal with war crimes.

Ali is a member of Jamaat-e-Islami's highest policy-making body and considered to be one of the party's top financiers. He was found guilty on eight charges, two of which carried a death sentence, including the abduction and murder of a young man in a torture cell. Ali was also sentenced to 72 years in prison on the other charges.

Jamaat-e-Islami, which had openly campaigned against independence, has denied committing atrocities.

In a statement, the party rejected Tuesday's verdict and called for a daylong general strike across the country Wednesday.

Bangladesh's prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, has called the trials a long overdue effort to obtain justice for war crimes, four decades after Bangladesh split from Pakistan.

Bangladesh says Pakistani soldiers, aided by local collaborators, killed 3 million people and raped 200,000 women in the 1971 war.