Saturday, May 18, 2013
Last Updated: 18 May 11:13 AM IST
28 February 2013The Daily Star/ANN & PTI
DHAKA, 28 FEB: Thirty two people were killed as violence erupted after a special Bangladeshi tribunal today handed death penalty to top Jamaat-e-Islami leader Delawar Hossain Sayedee for “crimes against humanity”, including genocide and religious persecution, during the country's 1971 war of independence against Pakistan .
Activists of Jamaat-e-Islami and Islami Chhatra Shibir ran riot across the country centring the verdict. The victims included the cops, activists of Jamaat, Shibir, Juba League and common people. Of the deceased, three cops were killed in Gaibandha, two people each in Rangpur, Noakhali, Sirajganj and Thakurgaon while one each in Dinajpur, Natore and Cox's Bazar.
Sayedee, vice-president of the party, was sentenced to death amid a nationwide shutdown called by Jammat. “He (Delwar Hossain Sayedee) will be hanged by neck till he is dead,” pronounced chairman of the three-judge International Crimes Tribunal Justice ATM Fazle Kabir.
Disagreeing with the judgment vehemently, the convict stood up on the dock and blamed the judges for “not giving the verdict from the core of their heart”.
The verdict came due to the excessive pressure from “some atheists of Shahbagh”, he said. Many present in the courtroom yelled at Sayedee to keep his mouth shut, calling him “promanito razakar”, which means a proved collaborator. The convict was later taken to Dhaka Central Jail.
Sayedee is the third JI politician to be convicted by the International Crimes Tribunal since the trial of war crimes suspects, mostly belonging to the Islamist group, began three years ago.
The 120-page verdict said the tribunal found valid eight of the 20 charges against the Islamist leader which included mass killing, arson, lootings and forcefully converting non-Muslims to Islam of which two of the charges earned him the highest death sentence.
The verdict came as a security blanket covered the capital and other major cities after JI called a nationwide shutdown coinciding with the date of the judgement while thousands of youngsters enforced a street vigil demanding the capital punishment for the war criminals.
Sayedee, the Nayeb-e-Amir of JI, was arrested on 29 June 2010 and was indicted on 3 October, for 20 charges of crimes against humanity including looting, killing, arson, rape and forcefully converting non-Muslims to Islam.
A total of 27 witnesses testified against him during the trial while Sayeedi's counsels brought 17 people to speak to defend their client. The authorities earlier called out paramilitary Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) in aide of police and elite anti-crime Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) to enforce a stringent security vigil.