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Bangladesh upholds death sentence for 1971 war crimes

[JURIST] The Supreme Court of Bangladesh [official website] upheld the death sentence of a former opposition politician on Tuesday for allegedly committing war crimes during the 1971 war of independence. Mir Quasem Ali, who is accused [Reuters report] of murder and torture during the conflict, was also a business man and member of the Jamaat-e-Islami Party. His party was opposed to independence and breaking away from Pakistan. More than 3 million people are believed to have died in the war and thousands of women raped, but the party insists it did not commit any war crimes and planned [Al Jazeera report] a nationwide strike for Wednesday to protest the decision. Quasem Ali went into hiding when other members of the party were arrested in late 1971. He was arrested in 2012 and sentenced to death in 2014 by the International Crimes Tribunal.

The International Crimes Tribunal Bangladesh (ICTB) [official website], established in 2009 under the International Crimes Act [text], is charged with investigating and prosecuting war crimes committed during the 1971 conflict. Rights groups such as Amnesty International [advocacy website] have criticized [JURIST report] death sentences imposed by the ICTB, stating that trials of war criminals have, in the past, "failed to meet international standards." In June a Bangladeshi court gave Syed Mohammed Hasan Ali, a fugitive commander of an auxiliary force of Pakistani troops, a death sentence [JURIST report] for torture and massacre in the Liberation War. Last April a Bangladeshi appeals court rejected [JURIST report] a final appeal by Muhammad Kamaruzzaman, an Islamist party official convicted of war crimes during the 1971 Liberation war, upholding his death sentence. In February 2015 the ICTB convicted and sentenced [JURIST report] Abdul Jabbar, a militia leader and former lawmaker, to life in prison for genocide and religious persecution committed during the 1971 Liberation War. Earlier that month the tribunal also sentenced [JURIST report] Islamist leader Adbus Subhan to death.

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