[JURIST] A court in Bangladesh sentenced 14 men to death on Thursday for their involvement in a 2004 arms smuggling operation. Among the individuals sentenced [Al Jazeera report] was Matiur Rahman Nizami [JURIST news archive], the leader of the opposition Jamaat-e-Islami [official website; GlobalSecurity backgrounder] party. In addition, the 14 included former deputy interior minister, Lutfozzaman Babar, and a former director general of the National Security Intelligence, retired Major General Rezzakul Haider Chowdhury. In 2004 the government seized ten truck loads of weapons in a raid on a state-owned jetty in the southeastern port city of Chittagong. The weapons are believed to have been bound for the Indian insurgency group the United Liberation Front of Asom(ULFA) [SATP profile]. Paresh Barua, a leader of the UFLA was also sentenced in absentia.
Bangladesh has seen a number of high profile death sentences and executions over the past two years. Last month the Bangladesh government executed [JURIST report] Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Assistant Secretary General Abdul Quader Mollah [JURIST news archive] for war crimes during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War [Bangladesh News backgrounder]. In November UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official website; JURIST news archive], urged [JURIST report] the Bangladesh government on Wednesday not to carry out the death sentences of 152 paramilitary soldiers [JURIST report] under reports of due process violations leading up to the trial. Also in November the International Crimes Tribunal Bangladesh (ICTB) [JURIST news archive] sentenced [JURIST report] two men to death for crimes during the Bangladesh Liberation War. The court found Chowdhury Mueen Uddin and Ashrafuzzaman Khan, both members of the JI party, guilty of abducting and murdering 18 people [AP report] in December 1971.