09/17/2014, 00.00
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Bangladesh, Muslim leader’s death sentence commuted to life imprisonment

by Sumon Corraya
The Supreme Court has upheld an appeal by Delwar Hossain Sayeedi, vice president of Jamaat-e-Islami (Islamic fundamentalist party). In 2013, an international tribunal for war had sentenced him to death for crimes against humanity.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) - This morning the Bangladesh Supreme Court commuted the death sentence imposed on Delwar Hossain Sayeedi, vice president of Jamaat-e-Islami (Islamic fundamentalist party) to life in prison. In March 2013, the international tribunal for war crimes had condemned the Islamic leader to death for crimes against humanity. However, the Supreme Court judges have upheld his appeal.

Known as Allamah, Sayeedi was found guilty - during the war of liberation in 1971 - of collaborating with the Pakistani army in the kidnapping and rape of three women; of murder, torture, theft; setting fire to houses of Hindus and forcing members of that religion to convert to Islam and to leave the country.

His death sentence sparked violent protests last year. After the pronouncement, Jamaat supporters and members from throughout Bangladesh clashed with the police. On March 7, 2013 - a week after the court's verdict - at least 80 people were dead and about 200 injured.

Established by the Awami League (governing party), the international tribunals for war pursued, tried and convicted several members of Jamaat, and some members of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP nationalist opposition). According to the Islamic Party and the Nationalist Party, these courts were used as a political tool of vendetta by Awami.

However Ganajagaran Mancha activists, a secular and anti-fundamentalist organization, have already expressed their opposition to the commutation of sentence decided today by the Supreme Court. Imran H Sarkar, spokesman for the movement, said that the justice system "has been compromised".


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