Bangladesh Islamist party chief sentenced to death
Motiur Rahman Nizami, leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami, was convicted of arms trafficking. Other charges pending on him include crimes against humanity committed during the war of independence of 1971. Along with Nizami, 13 other defendants get the death penalty.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) - A special court in Chittagong imposed the death penalty on Motiur Rahman Nizami, head of the Jamaat-e-Islami, Bangladesh's largest Islamist party after he was convicted of smuggling weapons in 2004. The court also imposed the death penalty on 13 other defendants.

On 1 April 2004, police recovered ten truckloads of weapons and ammunition at the jetty of Chittagong Urea Fertiliser Ltd (CUFL).

They included 4,930 sophisticated firearms of different types, 840 rocket launchers, 300 rockets, 27,020 grenades, 2,000 grenade-launching tubes, 6,392 magazines and 11.41 million bullets. At the time, Nizami was Industries minister.

The ameer (chief) of the Jamaat, who denied any involvement in the smuggling case, has also been charged with 16 additional counts, including crimes against humanity and genocide committed during the war of liberation from Pakistan in 1971. The international tribunal has yet to rule in this case.

In view of the ruling, many are afraid that tensions might escalate, and that Jamaat and its supporters might engage in new violent protests, such as those that occurred in late 2013. (SC)