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Bangladesh Halts Execution of Islamist Leader

A judge has postponed the execution of an Islamist opposition leader in Bangladesh, after his legal team appealed for a reprieve hours before he was to be hanged.

Abdul Qadir Molla was convicted of war crimes during the nation's war of independence against Pakistan in 1971. He was set to be executed Wednesday, but lawyers went to the home of Judge Syed Mahmud Hossain and secured a postponement.

The lawyers are trying to convince the Supreme Court to throw out the sentence in a case that could usher in a fresh wave of political violence before national elections set for next month.

Molla's party, Jamaat-e-Islami, issued a statement warning of "dire consequences" if he was executed.

After hearing the case on Wednesday, the Supreme Court adjourned its proceedings until Thursday.



New York based Human Rights Watch has warned that by executing Mollah without reviewing the death sentence Bangladesh could be breaking international law.

Jamaat-e-Islami sided with the Pakistan army during a bloody civil war that led to the creation of Bangladesh in 1971. Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's party Awami League says three million people died in the war. Independent researchers put the death toll between 300,000 to 500,000.

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