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Bangladesh Islamist Party Leader Sentenced To Life Over War Crimes

The International Crimes Tribunal of Bangladesh on Tuesday sentenced a leader of the main Islamist party to life in prison for crimes against humanity during the country's 1971 independence war.

Abdul Kader Mullah, Assistant Secretary-General of the Jamaat-e-Islami Party, was charged with murder and five other crimes.

Immediately after the controversial tribunal delivered the verdict, the 64-year-old leader, who had already denied the charges, shouted in the heavily-guarded court room that he was innocent.

In all, 12 people are standing trial in cases concerning the crimes committed during the war preceding the independence of Bangladesh in 1971. They include Jamaat-e-Islami leaders, a Musim cleric and an ex-Minister from the Opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).

The tribunal handed down its first verdict last month by sentencing to death well-known Muslim cleric Abul Kalam Azad. The cleric in exile is charged with murdering Hindus and raping Hindu women during the war that liberated Bangladesh from Pakistan.

The European Union reacted to it by urging the Bangladeshi authorities to commute the death sentence and to declare a moratorium on executions as a first step towards definitive abolition of capital punishment.

The High Representative of the European Union said the bloc was following closely the judicial proceedings in Bangladesh concerning the so-called war crimes.

by RTT Staff Writer

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