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Inside Story

Bangladesh: Between justice and politics

What is really behind the verdict for Abdul Kader Mullah, held responsible for hundreds of deaths in the 1971 war?

Last Modified: 18 Sep 2013 12:53
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It is supposed to be about closing a chapter and finding justice for those killed in a war of independence over 40 years ago. But the legal system in Bangladesh, and maybe the political one too, is now finding out just how tough that task is.

It is very clear the motive of the changing of the law was nothing but to hang Mr Abdul Kader Mullah ... It is not for justice that the government has changed the law, it is for the political purpose to destroy Jamaat-e-Islami ...

Muhammad Abu Baker Molla, Jamaat-e-Islami spokesman

The latest twist is the sentencing of Abdul Kader Mullah, the fourth-highest-ranked leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, for war crimes committed back in the 1971 war.

Though the numbers vary, Bangladesh's fight for independence from Pakistan was brutal and deadly. Many Bangladeshi scholars put that death toll at three million but others have disputed the figure.

More than 2,50,000 Bengali women were also raped during the period, according to some records.

Abdul Kader Mullah is the first politician to be found guilty by the country's Supreme Court after it overturned an appeal to acquit him of all charges.

"The court enhanced his life sentence to the death penalty," prosecutor Mohammad Ali said on Tuesday.

Originally, the special court gave him life in prison but now the Supreme Court has turned that into a death sentence.

But whether the sentences were too lenient or too tough, the big question is: What is behind the sentence? Why was it changed? And who influenced it?

Inside Story, with presenter Kamahl Santamaria, discusses with guests: Imtiaz Ahmed, a professor of international relations at the University of Dhaka; Syed Shajidur Rahman Faruk, the general secretary of the Awami league UK; and Muhammad Abu Baker Molla, the spokesman for the opposition group Jamaat-e-Islami.

"I can say categorically this is not politically motivated - it is the demand of millions of people. Of course, the parliament has changed [the law], the parliament has the constitutional right and they can change it."

Syed Shajidur Rahman Faruk, the general secretary of the Awami league UK

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Source:
Al Jazeera
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