Bangladesh set for another war crime verdict

Dhaka, Oct 30: Mir Quasem Ali, another top leader of fundamentalist party Jamaat-e-Islami will be sentenced on Sunday for war crimes committed by him during the liberation war in 1971, a special Bangladeshi tribunal announced today.

A three-member panel of judges ordered appearance of detained Jamaat leader Ali in the dock on Sunday as it was set to deliver the verdict on charges of crimes against humanity during the 1971 liberation war, officials of the Bangladesh's International Crimes Tribunal 2 said.

Ali, 62, the alleged chief of Chittagong Al-Badr, an auxiliary force of Pakistani army, faces 14 charges, including murder, abduction and torture during nation's independence war against Pakistan 43 years ago. If convicted, Ali, who is considered as one of the top financiers of the party, may face death penalty. The date for Ali's verdict came as Bangladesh today witnessed a nationwide general strike called by party soon after the International Crimes Tribunal 1 handed down death penalty to Motiur Rahman Nizami, who was the Al-Badr chief in 1971.

Nizami, 71, was sentenced to death yesterday for mass killing, rape, loot and leading execution of several intellectuals during nation's independence war against Pakistan 43 years ago. Similar verdicts against some of Nizami's top lieutenants plunged the nation into one of its worst crises last year as tens of thousands of Jamaat activists clashed with police, leaving several hundreds dead, while Ali is the last among the Jamaat stalwarts await the verdict on crimes charges.

Ali was indicted on September 5 and the tribunal wrapped the trial hearing on May 4 this year keeping it pending for the judgment. Since Bangladesh launched the war crimes trial, the two special tribunals so far handed down death penalties to eight people on 1971 war crime charges and ordered two others to languish in jail until their death as they so far completed the trial of 11 war crimes key-accused.

Only one of them, Jamaat's joint secretary general Abdul Quader Mollah so far was executed while two of the convicts are living in the US and UK and the other cases are pending before the Supreme Court for review. Of the 10 convicts, eight are Jamaat stalwarts and the rest two are leaders of its crucial ally Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) of ex-prime minister Khaleda Zia.

Hearing on 10 cases are still underway at the two tribunals four others now awaited verdict after the wrap up of the trial hearing. Three million people were killed by the Pakistani army and their Bengali-speaking collaborators during the 1971 liberation war, when Jamaat was opposed to Bangladesh's independence siding with the Pakistani junta. 


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