The Supreme Court of Bangladesh [official website] on Tuesday sentenced Abdul Quader Mollah, assistant secretary general of the Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) [party website; GlobalSecurity backgrounder], to death. This overturned a February ruling by the International Crimes Tribunal Bangladesh (ICTB) [Facebook page; JURIST news archive], which sentenced Mollah to life in prison for crimes committed during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War [GlobalSecurity backgrounder]. The life sentence triggered protests by both supporters of JI, as well as people hoping that Mollah would receive a death sentence. In response to these protesters, the Bangladesh parliament amended the law [Reuters report] to allow the state to appeal any sentence passed by the ICTB. Mollah's defense counsel stated that the sentence was politically motivated and said that he would file a petition for a review.
Bangladesh has suffered in recent months from a wave of violent protests over war crimes convictions against leaders of the JI party. In July Ali Ahsan Mojaheed was found guilty of five charges [JURIST report] by the ICTB, including those of kidnapping and killing a journalist, a music director and a number of other people during the war. Also in July Ghulam Azam, chief of JI in Bangladesh until 2000, was found guilty by the ICTB [JURIST report] of five charges of planning, conspiracy, incitement, complicity and murder during the war. In the same month, ATM Azharul Islam was required to report to the ICTB [JURIST report] to answer charges of murder, genocide, abduction, torture, rape, looting and arson. The ICTB began its first trial [JURIST report] in November 2011 and was first established in 2010 [JURIST report] to handle war crime charges stemming from the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War.