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Bangladesh Islamic Leader Sentenced to Death

A Bangladeshi war crimes tribunal has convicted and sentenced to death a top Islamic party leader for his role in the kidnapping and killing of people during the country's 1971 independence war.

The verdict against 65-year-old Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid, the secretary general of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, was handed down Wednesday in the capital, Dhaka.

Mujahid was convicted of torture, kidnapping and the murder of intellectuals. Prosecutor Tureen Afroz summarized the case:

"There were seven charges brought against Mr. Mujahid. Out of the seven charges, five has been beyond reasonable doubt proved by the prosecution. And out of these five charges, three charges have been given death penalty, one for the life imprisonment and one for five years imprisonment."

Mujahid shouted "injustice" as the judge read the sentence.

The verdict is the second this week by the tribunal. On Monday, the controversial court sentenced 90-year-old Ghulam Azam, the spiritual leader of Jamaat-e-Islami, to 90 years in prison for his role in atrocities committed during the war.

So far six of the group's leaders have been sentenced since January by the war crimes tribunal, set up by the Awami-League led government in 2010. The trials have triggered violence that has left more than 100 people dead.

Critics have accused Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of using the tribunals to decimate the country's opposition parties ahead of elections scheduled for next year.

Bangladesh fought a nine-month war against Pakistan in 1971 to obtain its independence. The government says three million people died in the violence, although other estimates put the death toll lower.

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