A top leader of the fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami party was sentenced to death today by a special Bangladeshi tribunal for committing “crimes against humanity” and unleashing ruthless militias on unarmed intellectuals during the country’s 1971 liberation war. Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed,secretary general and second-highest ranked official of Jamaat-e-Islami party was given death penalty by the International Crimes Tribunal-2,two days after the Islamic party’s 91-year-old supremo Ghulam Azam was sentenced to 90 years in jail.
The verdict sparked violence on the streets as supporters of Jamaat clashed with police,with five people killed a countrywide strike since Monday to protest the ongoing trial of Islamists. “He will be hanged by neck till he is dead,” Justice Obaidul Hassan,the chairman of the three-member panel ofjudges pronounced,reading out the operative part of the verdict in a jam-packed courtroom here. Justi ce Hassan said five of the seven charges brought against Mojaheed were “proved beyond doubt” and the court sentenced him to death on two counts for personal involvement in the killings of several pro-liberation activists.
Reacting angrily to the judgement,65-year-old Mojaheed said the verdict was “100 per cent injustice” and recited averse from the Koran. “I am cent percent innocent,” he said standing in the dock. Mojaheed’s lawyers said they would challenge the “inappropriate” judgement at the Supreme Court. Mojaheed was the second in command of the infamous Al Badr militia forces,manned mainly by Jamaat’s then student wing. Al Badr had systematically killed leading Bengali intelligentsia during the liberation war and acted as an elite auxiliary force of the Pakistani troops. Mojaheed was found guilty of “superior responsibility” and “criminal liability” of the atrocities. The judgement said it found valid the allegations that Mojaheed was personally involved in systematic persecution of the Hindu community.
The tribunal said,Mojaheed ordered the murder of leading journalist Sirajuddin Hossain and instigated a Pakistani military officer to torture and kill several prominent figures,including famous musician Altaf Mahmud and freedom fighter Rumi. Security forces whisked Mojaheed away from the dock after the verdict was delivered. This was the sixth verdict in the sensational war crimes trial. Meanwhile,Jamaat called for a nationwide strike tomorrow to protest the sentencing.