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Bangladesh High Court Rejects Islamist Leader's Final Appeal in War Crimes Case

FILE - Mir Quashem Ali, a senior leader of the Bangladesh's largest Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami shows victory sign as he enters a police van after a special tribunal sentenced him to death in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Nov. 2, 2014.

Bangladesh's highest court has rejected a final appeal by a senior Islamist leader, clearing the way for his execution for war crimes committed during the country's 1971 war for independence with Pakistan.

The decision against Mir Quasem Ali leaves an appeal for presidential clemency as the only barrier to a death sentence first handed down in 2014.

The 63-year-old Ali is a leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami party and was convicted on eight charges that included the abduction of a young man and his killing in a torture cell.

Bangladesh says local collaborators and Pakistani soldiers killed 3 million people during the fight for independence, which Jamaat-e-Islami opposed.

Several other Islamist leaders have already been executed for war crimes. Jamaat-e-Islami and the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party have criticized the government's war crimes tribunal as politically motivated.

A group of U.N. human rights experts called last week for the high court to give Ali a new trial "in compliance with international standards."

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry referenced human rights criticisms in Bangladesh in a speech Monday in Dhaka, saying "we have to uphold and not betray" democratic principles in the fight against extremism.