[JURIST] Former Bangladeshi Junior Minister Syed Mohammad Qaisar was sentenced to death Tuesday, after he was found guilty of 14 counts of criminal charges including genocide, rape, extortion, arson, and torture committed during Bangladesh’s 1971 Independence War [GlobalSecurity backgrounder]. Qaisar denied the charges, and his lawyer expressed his opinion that the judgment against his client was improper. Qaisar plans to appeal the judgment.
Two special war crimes tribunals were set up in 2010. Since then, they have convicted 13 people, most of whom were senior leaders of Bangladesh’s largest Islamist Party, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) [GlobalSecurity backgrounder]. In November a special tribunal in Bangladesh sentenced [JURIST report] Mobarak Hossain, a former commander of a collaborators’ group of the Pakistani army, to death for his role in killings during the 1971 Independence War. Also in November the Supreme Court of Bangladesh [official website] upheld the death sentence [JURIST report] of Islamist politician Mohammad Kamaruzzaman, who was assistant secretary general of the JI party. In October another JI party leader, Motiur Rahman Nizami, was sentenced to death [JURIST report] for war crimes. Activists have long called for the banning of the country’s largest Islamist party. In March Bangladeshi investigators moved the government [JURIST report] to ban the Islamist party after evidence emerged indicating that JI formed armed groups to assist Pakistani forces in the commission of atrocities.