Riots as Bangladesh war court jails Islamist for life over 'mass murders'
By Kamrul Hasan Khan ,AFPDHAKA -- Deadly riots broke out in Bangladeshi cities on Tuesday after a court sentenced a senior Islamist opposition leader to life in prison for mass murder during the 1971 liberation war against Pakistan.
February 6, 2013, 12:03 am TWN
Abdul Quader Mollahh, 64, the fourth-highest leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, was the first politician to be found guilty by the International Crimes Tribunal, a much-criticized domestic court based in Dhaka.
Mollah cried “Allahu Akbar!” (God is great) and said the charges were false after presiding judge Obaidul Hassan delivered the verdict in a crowded and tightly guarded court.
“He deserved the death sentence because of the gravity of the crimes. But the court gave him life imprisonment,” said Attorney General Mahbubey Alam, adding Mollah was found guilty of five out of six charges including mass murder.
A man was shot dead in clashes with police in the port city of Chittagong as the ruling sparked immediate protests by Jamaat, the country's largest Islamic party, which enforced a nationwide strike in anticipation of the conviction.
“We fired in self-defense after hundreds of protesters attacked us with firearms and handmade bombs,” Deputy Police Commissioner Habibur Rahman told AFP, adding an unidentified man died of bullet wounds and 10 officers were injured.
Police also clashed with protesters in the capital Dhaka, firing rubber bullets to disperse a group of protesters who were smashing vehicles.
And in the northwestern city of Rajshahi police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at about 500 Jamaat supporters who hurled a dozen homemade firebombs.
The verdict is the second by the tribunal. On Jan. 21 a top TV preacher who is an ex-Jamaat official was sentenced to death in absentia for murder and genocide.
Ten other opposition figures — including the entire leadership of Jamaat and two from the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) — stand accused of war crimes.