Top Bangladesh leader gets death for 1971 war crimes

IntSecretary-general of the Jamaat-e-Islami party Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed outside the court in Dhaka on Wednesday. REUTERS

A top leader of the fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami party was sentenced to death Wednesday by a special Bangladeshi tribunal for committing "crimes against humanity" and unleashing ruthless militias on unarmed intellectuals during the country's 1971 liberation war.

The 65-year-old Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) secretary-general Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed was given death penalty by the International Crimes Tribunal-2, two days after the party's 91-year-old supremo Ghulam Azam was sentenced to 90 years in jail.

"He will be hanged by neck till he is dead," Justice Obaidul Hassan, the chairman of the three-member panel of judges pronounced, reading out the operative part of the verdict to a packed courtroom in Dhaka.

Mojaheed, initially looked expressionless as he was brought to the dock but appeared shocked as the judge handed down the punishment.

Hassan said five of the seven charges brought against Mojaheed were "proved beyond doubt" and the court sentenced him to death on two counts for personal involvement in the killings of several pro-liberation activists.

Mojaheed was the second-in-command of the infamous Al Badr militia forces, manned mainly by Jamaat's then student wing. Al Badr had systematically killed leading Bengali intelligentia during the liberation war and acted as an elite auxiliary force of the Pakistani troops. Mojaheed was found guilty of "superior responsibility" and "criminal liability" in the atrocities.

The judgment said that it found valid the allegations that Mojaheed was personally involved in systematic persecution of the Hindu community. The court found complaints about Mojaheed commanding a systematic campaign to kill leading Bengali intelligentia to be true.

The tribunal said, Mojaheed ordered the murder of leading journalist Sirajuddin Hossain and instigated a Pakistani military officer to torture and kill several prominent figures, including famous musician Altaf Mahmud and freedom fighter Rumi, "before the (Pakistani) President declared an amnesty".

Security forces whisked Mojaheed away from the dock after the verdict was delivered, even as he screamed that he was "victimised" for his role in the Islamic movement.

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