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Bangladesh Upholds Death Sentence for Islamist Party Leader

FILE - Maulana Matiur Rahman Nizami, chief of Bangladesh's fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami party.

Bangladesh's Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the death sentence given to the leader of the country's largest Islamist party for war crimes.

A panel of judges rejected an appeal by Motiur Rahman Nizami, a former Cabinet minister who leads the radical Jamaat-e-Islami party. The decision clears the last barrier for his execution.

Nizami was convicted in October 2014 on charges of genocide, murder, torture, rape and destruction of property for his role in Bangladesh's nine-month war for independence with Pakistan in 1971.

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

Special tribunals set up by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina have sentenced more than a dozen opposition leaders for war crimes since 2010. Opponents have denounced the proceedings as politically motivated attempts to target opposition members.