The International Crimes Tribunal of Bangladesh (ICTB) [JURIST news archive] on Wednesday found Abdul Alim, leader of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) [party website] in the nation's war for independence in 1971 [Banglapedia backgrounder], guilty of crimes against humanity and sentenced him to life imprisonment. The tribunal, which was established in 2009 under the International Crimes Act [text] is charged with investigating and prosecuting war crimes committed during the conflict in which about 3 million people were killed. Alim was found guilty of leading groups of Pakistani soldiers on raids to kill Hindu civilians as well as generally targeting civilians during the conflict. The tribunal took Alim's age, 83, and illness into consideration in handing down the verdict. According to his lawyers, Alim plans to appeal the decision.
Bangladesh has suffered in recent months from a wave of violent protests over war crimes convictions against leaders of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) [party website; GlobalSecurity backgrounder] party. Last week, the same tribunal sentenced a member of parliament to death for war crimes. Last month the Supreme Court of Bangladesh [official website] sentenced [JURIST report] Abdul Quader Mollah, assistant secretary general of the Islamist party JI, to death. This overturned a February ruling by the ICTB, which sentenced Mollah to life in prison for crimes committed during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War. 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.