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Bangladeshi Tribunal Convicts Islamist Leader for War Crimes

Bangladeshi activists shout slogans as they celebrate outside the International Crimes Tribunal where leaders of the country’s largest Islamic party the Jamaat-e-Islami party are on trial in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Feb. 5, 2013.
A special court in Bangladesh has sentenced a senior Islamist opposition official to life in prison for his role during the country's 1971 war for independence from Pakistan.

The Dhaka-based International Crimes Tribunal on Tuesday found Abdul Quader Molla of the Jamaat-e-Islami party guilty of mass murder, crimes against humanity and other charges.

He is the first politician to be convicted by the controversial tribunal, which is trying those suspected of war crimes during the nine-month conflict that killed about 3 million people.

Authorities say the Islamist leaders collaborated with the Pakistani army to commit atrocities during the war.

International rights groups have said the tribunal's legal procedures fall short of international standards. And Islamists say the tribunal was set up to target the government's political opponents.

Supporters of Jamaat-e-Islami protested. There were reports of clashes with police following the verdict. The party already ordered a nationwide general strike that shut down much of the capital Tuesday.

Nine members of Jamaat-e-Islami and two members of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party are accused of war crimes by the tribunal. Last month, a popular Islamist televangelist, Abul Kalam Azad, was sentenced to death in absentia for murder and genocide.