Jamaat leader sentenced to death for B'desh 1971 war crimes

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Dhaka, May 9: A top leader of Bangladesh's fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami was on Thursday sentenced to death for mass murder and "crimes against humanity" he committed during the 1971 liberation war against Pakistan, becoming the fourth person to be convicted in the case.

A special Bangladeshi tribunal handed down death penalty to Muhammad Quamaruzzaman for collaborating in the mass murder of 164 unarmed civilians in Sohagpur village on July 25, 1971, The Daily Star reported.

"He will be hanged by neck until he is dead," chairman of the three-judge International Crimes Tribunal-2 Justice Obaidul Hassan pronounced as the convict was escorted to the dock at the crowded courtroom.

Quamruzzaman, 60, an assistant secretary general of Jamaat, is the fourth accused who was convicted for the 1971 war crimes siding with Pakistani troops while his party was opposed to Bangladesh's independence.

Elite anti-crime Rapid Action Battalion and police enforced a sharp vigil around the tribunal complex of the special tribunal at the Old High Court complex at down town Dhaka as the verdict came while an opposition enforced nationwide shutdown for the second consecutive day.

Quamaruzzaman was brought at the court by a security convoy from the Dhaka Central Jail. The prosecution lawyers earlier said he was a principal organiser of the so-called elite Al Badr militia forces manned by Bengali collaborators in the northern Mymensingh region which subsequently carried out atrocities and mass murders also elsewhere in the country. During the trial, Kamaruzzaman denied the allegations and said the prosecution was politically motivated.

The tribunal indicted him on June 4 last year on seven specific charges while it delivered the verdict after months of arguments between the prosecution and defence lawyers. The 265-page judgement said the five of the charges including mass killings were proved in the trial.

Bangladesh says the liberation war left 3 million people dead, 200,000 women raped and forced millions to flee to India. Strongly opposing the tribunal decision, Kamaruzzaman' counsel Saifur Rahman said they would appeal against the judgement with the Supreme Court.

PTI

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