Motiur RahmanNizami, head of Jamaat-e-Islami, Bangladesh’s largest Islamist party has been sentenced to death for war crimes committed during the country’s independence war against Pakistan in 1971.
A war crimes tribunal in Bangladesh with a three-judge panel announced the verdict to a packed courtroom in Dhaka on Wednesday.
Mohammad Ali, state prosecutor said the sentence reflected the “gravity of the crimes.”
The 71-year-old Nizami had been tried on 16 charges including genocide, murder, torture and rape.
There are different estimates for the number of people killed in the nine-month Bangladeshi war of secession. Government figures suggest as many as 3 million people died, while some say that the figure is too high and unverifiable.
Nizami was accused of acting as supreme commander of a militia, al-Badr, an auxiliary force, which helped the Pakistani army identify and kill pro-independence activists in Bangladesh.
The prosecution said the group carried out systematic torture and executions during the war, including of teachers, engineers and journalists.
“Considering the gravity of the crimes, the tribunal punished him with the death sentence,” Ali said.
However, the defence lawyers said they would appeal against the verdict.
Nizami served as a minister in the Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led government from 2001-2006.
The Jamaat-e-Islaami party has called for a three-day nationwide strike to protest the decision.
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