Bangladesh MP Salauddin Quader Chowdhury sentenced to death over war crimes

64-year-old defendant found guilty of torture, rape and genocide during the country’s struggle for independence

Asia Correspondent

A court in Bangladesh
has sentenced to death a senior opposition politician who has been convicted of
war crimes carried out during the country’s bloody struggle for independence.
The decision was met by violent protesters by some of his supporters.

Security had been tightened in Dhaka and other cities in the country ahead of the appearance in court by Salauddin Quader Chowdhury, a member of parliament and a senior member of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). The decision was the seventh such ruling by the court, which was set up by the ruling Awami League-led government.

The 64-year-old defendant was found guilty of torture, rape and genocide. He had been accused of direct involvement in the killing of anywhere up to 200 civilians and collaborating with Pakistan’s army to kill and torture unarmed people.

On Tuesday night it was reported that supporters of Chowdhury had attacked government activists. A number of vehicles were set on fire in the city of Chittagong. The BNP has called for a shutdown in Chittagong on Wednesday.

The crimes for which Chowdhury had been accused took place in 1971 as Bengali nationalists in what was then East Pakistan struggled for the results of a democratic election to be recognised. The authorities in West Pakistan opposed the move and troops launched a brutal operation to put down the democratic movement. Anywhere between 300,000 to 3m people were killed.

The special court was established in 2010 by the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Opponents claim it is politically motivated and that it does not meet international standards of justice. Others say the hearings are an essential way to achieve justice for the dark deeds that took place four decades ago.

Chowdhury was charged 16 months ago with 23 specific charges of crimes against humanity committed along with Pakistani troops during the liberation war. Chowdhury, the son of former acting president, denied all of them. After Tuesday’s verdict, his wife told reporters they would appeal to the country’s Supreme Court. Farhat Quader Chowdhury called the decision a “farce”.

According to the Associated Press, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam said the tribunal convicted Chowdhury on nine of the 23 charges. “I think this is a fair trial,” said Mr Alam said. “We are happy.”

Among the incidents he was directly accused of was plotting the killing of Nutun Chandra Singha, a respected philanthropist and industrialist, in the south-eastern port city of Chittagong. He is said to have operated a torture cell at his home in that city throughout the war.

Forty-one prosecution witnesses, including a former journalist, testified against Chowdhury during the trial. His own lawyers called on four defence witnesses who claimed he was out of the country at the time the killings took place.

Chowdhury is one of two BNP leaders to be tried for war crimes, the other being former minister Abdul Alim. Last month, a court sentenced to death Abdul Quader Mollah, a senior leader of the Islamist Jamaat-e-Islami party.

While many in the country have welcomed the court action against those charged with the crimes of 1971, supporters of the BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami have organised violent protests and clashed with the security forces following earlier court decisions. Dozens of people have been killed.

Chowdhury, better known as Saqa, he is a member of the main main policy-making body of the BNP, which is headed by former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Disruption at Waterloo after a person was hit by a train
newsCancellations and disrupted service after person hit by train
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
The almost deserted Liverpool Echo Arena on Monday
tvCan X Factor last in the face of plummeting numbers auditioning
News
Kirsty Bertarelli is launching a singing career with an album of songs detailing her observations of “real life”
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Photographer / Floorplanner / Domestic Energy Assessor

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Photographer/ Floor planner /...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence