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Bangladesh Tycoon to be Executed for War Crimes

Mir Quasem 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.

A special tribunal in Bangladesh handed down the death sentence to a senior leader of the country's largest Islamist party for war crimes more than 40 years ago.

The war crimes court in Dhaka found Mir Quasem Ali guilty Sunday 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, Tanvir Ahmed Al-Amin, described the charges as "baseless and false" and vowed to appeal the verdict in the Supreme Court.

Bangladesh says local collaborators and Pakistani soldiers killed 3 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 same court sentenced to death the party's leader, Motiur Rahman Nizami, for war crimes.

Nine opposition leaders

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

On Monday, Bangladesh's Supreme Court upheld the death penalty handed down in May 2013 for Mohammad Kamaruzzaman, an Islamist leader.

Kamaruzzaman, 62, assistant secretary general of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, was found guilty of genocide and torture of unarmed civilians during the 1971 war to break away from Pakistan by a special war crimes tribunal.

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

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