B’desh jails Islamic party leader to life for 1971 war crimes

Dhaka: A top leader of Bangladesh's fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami was on Tuesday sentenced to life by a special tribunal here for "crime against humanity" committed during the 1971 independence war against Pakistan, sparking riots that claimed at least one life.

"He (Abdul Kader Mollah) will serve life term," said chairman of the three-member International Crimes Tribunal Justice Obaidul Hassan.

Mollah is the assistant secretary general of the right-wing Jamaat-e-Islami.

The judgment said five of the six charges brought against the 65-year-old were proved during the trial.

Earlier, Mollah was brought before the court under heavy security vigil. Soon after the verdict, Jamaat supporters clashed with police in parts of the capital, leaving at least one dead and several people injured.

A man was killed in a gunfight between police and pro-hartal activists in Chittagong city during the Jamaat- enforced day long hartal.

This was the second such judgment by the tribunal in less than three weeks after it awarded death penalty to fugitive Abul Kalam Azad, an anchor of Islamic programmes in a private TV channel and expelled JI leader, on January 17.

Mollah was arrested on July 13, 2010, along with fellow party leader Muhammad Qamaruzzaman in front of the Supreme Court premises on charges of crimes against humanity in 1971.

The tribunal indicted him on May 28, 2012 on six specific charges for actively participating, facilitating, aiding and substantially contributing to the attack directed upon the unarmed civilians, "causing commission of the horrific" genocides, murders and rapes.

Attorney-General Mahbube Alam in an instant reaction to media said the verdict "upset us as we expected the capital punishment for the crimes he committed" but the defence counsels were not available for comments.

Alam said the state side would decide later if they would file an appeal against the judgement after a detail review of the judgement.

Meanwhile, authorities ordered a nationwide security alert as JI activists torched several vehicles and attacked buses in the capital Dhaka and several other major cities.