[JURIST] A war crimes tribunal in Bangladesh on Thursday sentenced Mohammad Kamaruzzam, assistant secretary general of the Jamaat-e-Islami party (JI) [party website, in Bengali], to death for atrocities committed during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War [GlobalSecurity backgrounder]. Kamaruzzam, the fourth person convicted [WSJ report] by the tribunal established by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in 2010, was found guilty of committing mass murder and torturing innocent civilians who did not support declaring independence from Pakistan. Kamaruzzam, however, denies the charges and maintains that he is being sentenced by a politicized court [Al Jazeera report] because he is a member of the opposition party. Some are concerned that Thursday’s sentencing will result in clashes between police and supporters of the Islamist leader.
In February another JI party leader, Delwar Hossain Sayeedee, was sentenced to death [JURIST report] for mass killing, rape, arson, looting and forcing minority Hindus to convert to Islam during the Bangladesh Liberation War. His sentence sparked violence between police and activists from the JI party. Also in February the Banglaesh parliament approved amendments [JURIST report] to the country’s war crimes laws to allow prosecutors to appeal sentences given to defendants convicted of war crimes. These amendments were passed in response to protests [JURIST report] following the life sentence [JURIST report] handed down to Abdul Quader Mollah for war crimes. The protesters believed a life sentence was too lenient for Mollah and that he should have been sentenced to death. The will be effective retroactively [AP report] to July 2009, allowing prosecutors to appeal Mollah’s sentence.