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Bangladesh war crimes tribunal sentences Jamaat-e-Islami leader to death

The International Crimes Tribunal Bangladesh (ICTB) [Facebook page] on Thursday sentenced to death Jamaat-e-Islami party (JI) [party website, in Bengali; GlobalSecurity backgrounder] leader Delwar Hossain Sayeedee [JURIST news archive]. Following the death sentence, violence [Reuters report] between police and activists from Sayeedee's party ensued throughout the country resulting in at least 30 deaths while more than 300 were wounded. Sayeedee was found guilty by the court for mass killing, rape, arson, looting and forcing minority Hindus to convert to Islam during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War [GlobalSecurity backgrounder]. He is the third senior party official convicted by the international tribunal. Defense counsel stated that he will appeal the sentence. Sayeedee is a former member of Parliament in the National Assembly of Bangladesh [official website, in Bengali] and one of the leaders of the JI Bangladesh. He has been charged with 20 crimes [PTI report] contained in the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act of 1973 [text, PDF] including genocide, arson, rape and torture, and he went on trial [JURIST report] in November 2011.

Earlier this month the Bangladesh parliament [official website] approved amendments to the country's war crimes laws to allow prosecutors to appeal sentences given to defendants convicted of war crimes. These amendments are a response to protests [JURIST report] that ensued after Abdul Quader Mollah, another JI leader, was given a life sentence [JURIST report] for war crimes committed during the Bangladesh Liberation War (BLW). The protesters believed a life sentence was too lenient and that Mollah, who was convicted of charges including murder, rape and torture, should have been given the death penalty. The law passed by parliament will be effective retroactively [AP report] to July 2009, allowing prosecutors to appeal Mollah's sentence.

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