BANGLADESH: ISLAMIST SENTENCED TO HANG FOR WAR GENOCIDE
May 9, 2013: A Bangladeshi court sentenced a senior figure in the country's largest Islamic party to death for crimes including genocide dating back to the 1971 war for independence from Pakistan.
Mohammad Kamaruzzaman, 61, the assistant secretary general of the opposition Jamaat-e-Islami party, was the fourth person to be convicted by the much-criticised International Crimes Tribunal and the third senior politician.
The tribunal headed by Justice Obaidul Hassan found Kamaruzzaman guilty of genocide, torture, abduction and crimes against humanity including a mass killing at a site which has since become known as the "Village of Widows", according to an AFP correspondent at the court hearing.
"He has been sentenced to death by hanging for crimes such as genocide and murder. We feel relieved," Attorney General Mahbubey Alam told AFP.
Prosecutors said Kamaruzzaman was a "chief organiser" of the notorious Al Badr pro-Pakistani militia accused of killing thousands of people in the nine-month war which saw then East Pakistan split from the regime in Islamabad.
The genocide charge against Kamaruzzaman stems from the slaughter of at least 120 unarmed Bangladeshi farmers in the remote northern village of Sohagpur.
Three of the widows testified against Kamaruzzaman during his trial in which the prosecution detailed how he led Pakistani government troops to the village.
Defence lawyers rejected the charges as baseless, saying the chances to prove their client innocent were severely curtailed as the court only allowed five witnesses to testify for Kamaruzzaman.
Unlike other war crime courts across the world, the Bangladesh tribunal is not endorsed by the United Nations and the New York-based Human Rights Watch group has said its procedures fall short of international judicial standards. (Sources: AFP, 09/05/2013)