Bangladesh's highest court on Tuesday upheld the death sentence of a top business tycoon for war crimes, clearing the way for his execution within months.
Chief Justice SK Sinha announced in the Supreme Court that he had dismissed the appeal of Mir Quasem Ali, who was convicted of murder and abduction during Bangladesh's 1971 war of independence against Pakistan.
Ali, a shipping and property tycoon, headed a media corporation aligned with Bangladesh's largest Islamist party, Jamaat-e-Islami, before his arrest in 2012.
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He was convicted of running a militia torture cell that carried out killings, including that of a young independence fighter in the 1970s.
"The court upheld his death sentence for the abduction and murder of a young freedom fighter whose body was dumped in a river," Attorney General Mahbubey Alam told the AFP news agency.
Defence lawyers say the charges against Ali were "baseless and false", and they argued he was not at the crime scenes during the war.
The 63-year-old faces the gallows within months unless his case is reviewed by the same court, or he is granted clemency by the Bangladeshi president.
Three senior Jamaat officials and a leader of the main opposition party have been executed since December 2013 for war crimes, despite global criticism of their trials by a controversial war crimes tribunal.
The executions and previous convictions against other Jamaat officials plunged the country into one of its worst crises in 2013.
Tens of thousands of Islamist activists have clashed with police in nationwide protests that left some 500 people dead.
Ali, a former leader of Jamaat's powerful student wing, helped set up a number of charities, businesses, and trusts linked to the party after it was allowed to operate in the late 70s.
The tycoon, who was arrested in 2012 on 14 war crimes charges, headed the Diganta Media Corporation that owns a pro-Jamaat daily and a television station.
The government shut down the television station in 2013 for inflaming religious tensions.
Jamaat and the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party have accused the government of using the war crimes court to target their leaders through phoney charges.
Rights groups have also criticised the trials, saying they fall short of international standards and lack any foreign oversight.
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