Bangladesh’s war crimes tribunal has sentenced a senior opposition leader and MP to death for war crimes in the country’s bloody struggle for independence.
Salauddin Quader Chowdhury, of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), on Tuesday was found guilty of torture, rape and genocide during the war for independence from Pakistan in 1971.
The 64-year-old Chowdhury was charged with killing approximately 200 civilians and collaborating with Pakistan’s army to kill and torture unarmed people, as well as other crimes.
The tribunal process has been denounced by opposition parties as politically motivated ahead of polls due by January, and more than 100 people have been killed in protests against the war crimes verdicts since the start of this year.
Bangladesh deployed security forces in the capital, Dhaka, and in Chowdhury’s home city ahead of the verdict.
Chowdhury’s is the seventh such verdict by the body set up to investigate abuses during the war of independence.
Also on Tuesday, Bangladesh’s Supreme Court sentenced a top Islamist leader to death for war crimes during the country’s 1971 independence war, rejecting an earlier life sentence imposed by a war crimes tribunal.
The court imposed the sentence on Abdul Quader Mollah, the assistant secretary-general of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, who was found guilty of murder, rape and torture on February 5 by the war crimes tribunal.
The life sentence originally imposed by the tribunal triggered protests by those calling for the death penalty. In response, Bangladesh’s parliament amended a law to allow the state to appeal against any verdict reached in the war crimes trials deemed inadequate.
Mollah’s party, the Jamaat, opposed Bangladeshi independence from Pakistan in the 1971 war, but it denies accusations that some of its leaders committed murder, rape and torture during the conflict.