|Rage erupts in Dhaka after Islamist’s death verdict
A Bangladesh war crimes court sentenced a top Islamist opposition figure to death, a verdict that unleashed a new wave of deadly clashes between police and protesters.
Four people were shot dead in the violence that erupted after a court in Dhaka found Delwar Hossain Sayedee, vice-president of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, guilty of eight crimes related to the 1971 liberation war with Pakistan, AFP reports.
Prosecutor Syed Haider Ali said Sayedee was sentenced to death by hanging after he was found guilty of eight charges including murder, arson, rape and forceful conversion of Hindus to Islam. He is the third person to be convicted by the much-criticized domestic tribunal.
The latest clashes brought the overall death toll to 20 since the first verdict was delivered on January 21.
Two protesters were killed in the northern town of Sirajganj and another two in Mithapukur when police opened fire during clashes with hundreds of Islamists, police officials and doctors told AFP.
Emergency doctor Shariful Islam told AFP two people who had been shot died and one was injured after clashes between police and protesters at Mithapukur.
At least five people were injured after police fired live rounds at scores of Jamaat protesters in Dhaka where round 10,000 extra police had been drafted in.
However, protesters at a central Dhaka intersection erupted in cheers as news of Sayedee's sentence filtered through. “We've been waiting for this day for the last four decades,'' a protester told Somoy TV.
There was no immediate reaction from Jamaat to the verdict, but the party has enforced a nationwide strike demanding a halt to the trials. The cases against eight more Jamaat leaders are still being heard.
Earlier this month the tribunal, a local court with no international oversight, sentenced Jamaat's assistant secretary general Abdul Quader Molla to life imprisonment.
The tribunal has been tainted by controversies and allegations it is targeting only the opposition with trumped-up charges. Rights groups say its legal procedures fall short of international standards.
The government rejects the accusations, saying the trials are needed to heal the wounds of the war that it says killed three million people.