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Bangladesh top court upholds death sentence against Islamist leader

[JURIST] The high court of Bangladesh on Monday upheld the death sentence of Motiur Rahman Nizami for war crimes committed in the country's war for independence against Pakistan in 1971. Nizami's conviction was upheld [BBC report] on charges of genocide, murder, torture, and rape. A war crimes tribunal, established in 2010, convicted [JURIST report] Nizami of the aforementioned charges in 2014. Nizami led Bangladesh's largest Islamist political party, Jamaat-e-Islami, from 2001-2006. Nizami is one of the most significant figures to be prosecuted by the tribunal. It is likely Nizami will be executed in the upcoming months.

The International Crimes Tribunal of Bangladesh (ICTB) [official website], established under the International Crimes Act, is charged with investigating and prosecuting war crimes committed during the 1971 conflict, in which about 3 million people were killed. Critics accuse the Bangladeshi government of using the war tribunal as a mechanism to eliminate political opposition. A total of four opposition politicians [Al Jazeera report] have received death sentences by the tribunal, including three political leaders of Nazimi's party. In November two senior opposition leaders were executed, despite pressure from international rights groups to halt the executions [JURIST report]s. Earlier in November, the Bangladeshi government called the criticism intolerable [JURIST report] and asked an international human rights group to retract its statements. Generally, the rights groups argue the judicial process fails to meet international standards.

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