Bangladesh court to give verdict on Islamist leader’s death rap appeal

Dhaka : Bangladesh’s apex court will Wednesday deliver the final judgment on an appeal against the verdict of the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT)-1 sentencing an Islamist party leader to death for war crimes, including mass killings, during the country’s Liberation War 42 years ago.

The ICT-1 pronounced the verdict in February last year on a crime against humanity case, awarding death sentence to the Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami party’s Nayeb-e-Ameer, or vice-president, Delwar Hossain Sayeedi, also a former member of parliament.

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Sayeedi, believed to be the second-most important Jamaat leader, through his counsel filed appeal against the ICT judgment seeking acquittal on all charges.

Keeping pending the verdict for five months after closing the hearings on the appeal April 16 this year, the Appellate Division bench of Bangladesh Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Muzammel Hossain set the date for pronouncing the final judgment.

The matter will come up on Wednesday’s cause list as item no.1 for announcement of judgment, Xinhua reported.

Sayeedi, 73, considered a world famous orator on Islam and comparative religion, was indicted in October 2011 with 20 charges of crimes against humanity, including looting, killing, arson, rape and forcefully converting people into Muslims during the war.

The verdict against Sayeedi has sparked violent protests in February and subsequent months.

At least nine people were killed and dozens of others, including law enforcers, were wounded in Bangladesh as Jamaat activists fought pitched battles with police during a strike over Sayeedi’s war crimes verdict.

Bangladesh’s Attorney General Mahbubey Alam had then told reporters that “eight charges, including murder, against Sayeedi were proved beyond a reasonable doubt leading to a death sentence to the leader of Jamaat”.

“We expect that he (Sayeedi) would be sentenced to death,” Alam said Tuesday in a press briefing.

Bomb blasts, arson attacks and clashes with police broke out in Bangladesh on Dec 13, 2013, following the execution of a senior Jamaat leader and war criminal Abdul Quader Mollah who was hanged Dec 12, 2013, in the first execution of a war criminal in Bangladesh.

Sources said security has been beefed up ahead of the Sayeedi verdict in sensitive areas of capital Dhaka and in other areas of the country which were considered strongholds of the Jamaat.