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Bangladesh Court Upholds Islamist Leader's Death Sentence

FILE - Mohammad Kamaruzzaman, center, assistant secretary general of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, sits inside a police van.

The Supreme Court of Bangladesh on Monday upheld the death sentence of an Islamist leader for atrocities committed during the war of independence from Pakistan more than four decades ago.

Mohammad Kamaruzzaman, assistant secretary-general of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, was found guilty of war crimes last year and was sentenced to death. Kamaruzzaman is 62 years old.

On Sunday, a special tribunal in Bangladesh handed down a death sentence for war crimes to another senior leader of Jamaat-e-Islami, the country's largest Islamist party.

The war crimes court in Dhaka found Mir Quasem Ali guilty for crimes committed during the nation's independence war against Pakistan in 1971 when he was commander of the Al Badr militia forces.

The 62-year-old media tycoon is thought to be one of the top financiers of the Jamaat-e-Islami party.

He was found guilty on eight charges, including the abduction of a young man and his killing in a torture cell.

Ali's defense lawyer vowed to appeal the verdict in the Supreme Court.

Bangladesh says local collaborators and Pakistani soldiers killed three million people, raped 200,000 women and displaced about 10 million to refugee camps in neighboring India during the country’s independence struggle. Jamaat-e-Islami opposed independence.

Last week, the special tribunal sentenced to death the party's leader, Motiur Rahman Nizami, for war crimes.

The government opened the inquiry against nine senior opposition leaders. Seven are Islamists from Jamaat-e-Islami. Two are from the Bangladesh Nationalist Party.

Both parties denounce the trials as politically motivated attempts to target the opposition.

The government says the trials will heal the wounds of the 1971 war. Human rights groups say the war crimes tribunal does not meet international standards.