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Bangladesh top court upholds war crimes conviction

[JURIST] The Supreme Court of Bangladesh [official website] on Monday upheld the conviction [text, PDF] of Delwar Hossain Sayeedi, an Islamist preacher sentenced to life in prison for his involvement in the 1971 liberation war [JURIST backgrounder] in the country. Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha [official profile] delivered the judgment of the court, rejecting pleas [AFP report] from both sides to change the verdict. The state was seeking a death sentence while the defense was looking for an acquittal. Sayeedi was charged for a variety of crimes in connection to his role supporting the Pakistani army during the war, ranging from kidnapping and rape to forced religious conversion.

The International Crimes Tribunal, established in 2009 under the International Crimes Act [text], is charged with detaining, prosecuting and punishing persons responsible for committing genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and other crimes under international law 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." Last year the Supreme Court of Bangladesh upheld a death sentence [JURIST report] for Islamist leader Motiur Rahman Nizami. Earlier last year the Supreme Court upheld [JURIST report] the death sentence of a former opposition politician for allegedly committing war crimes during the 1971 war of independence. In February of last year the tribunal sentenced [JURIST report] two men to death for crimes against humanity.

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