The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Bangladesh's largest Islamic party enforces nationwide shutdown to protest war crimes verdict

  • Print

DHAKA, Bangladesh - Supporters of Bangladesh's largest Islamic party clashed with police Wednesday amid a nationwide strike called to protest a court's ruling that one of the opposition party's leaders should be executed for war crimes.

Bangladesh's Supreme Court on Tuesday sentenced Abdul Quader Mollah, a senior member of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, to death for committing crimes against humanity during the nation's 1971 independence war against Pakistan.

A five-member panel headed by Chief Justice M. Muzammel Hossain found him guilty of ordering the killing of a family of four during a Pakistani army crackdown in Dhaka in March 1971. Mollah and his supporters say the case against him is politically motivated.

Hours after the verdict, Mollah's party said it was calling a 48-hour general strike across the country beginning Wednesday to denounce the ruling. TV stations showed clashes Tuesday between Jamaat-e-Islami activists and police in the capital, Dhaka, and in several other towns. Scores were injured.

In Dhaka, police detained at least five activists from the party when they clashed with security officials, Bangla Vision TV station said.

On Wednesday, schools and businesses were closed as the strike was enforced. Police fired tear gas to disperse opposition supporters who exploded homemade bombs, barricaded roads and threw stones at security officials in some towns.

Mollah was previously convicted by a special war crimes tribunal in February and sentenced to life in prison. Both the defence and prosecution appealed that sentence to the Supreme Court.

Attorney-General Mahbubey Alam said Tuesday's verdict was now final, with no option for another appeal through the courts. He said Mollah's family can seek presidential clemency.

Defence counsel Abdur Razzaq said they were "stunned" by the court's decision to increase the sentence to death.

The ruling Awami League and its allies welcomed the verdict.

Mollah's party is an ally of the country's main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party headed by former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, a rival of current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Hasina formed the special tribunal in 2010 to try war crimes suspects. Bangladesh says Pakistani soldiers, aided by local collaborators, killed 3 million people and raped 200,000 women during the nine-month war.

Zia has accused the government of using trials to weaken the opposition. The government denies the allegation and says it won power in 2008 with an election pledge to prosecute war crimes suspects.

Several other top leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami have been convicted of similar charges.

The government says the trials are being held at an international standard, but New York-based Human Rights Watch has raised questions about the impartiality of the tribunal.

The earlier sentence against Mollah also led to protests across the country, both by his supporters and those who said the sentence was too lenient.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Your top TV picks for Dec. 1-4

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A goose comes in for a landing Thursday morning through heavy fog on near Hyw 59 just north of Winnipeg - Day 17 Of Joe Bryksa’s 30 day goose challenge - May 24, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • A gosling stares near water at Omands Creek Park-See Bryksa 30 day goose challenge- Day 25– June 21, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Should the federal government force band chiefs and councillors to disclose their salary information?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google