Islamist leader Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujaheed sentenced to death in Bangladesh

War crimes tribunal convicts key opposition figure for atrocities during 1971 war

Dhaka

The secretary general of the opposition Jamaat-e-Islami party has been sentenced to death by a Bangladesh war crimes tribunal for crimes against humanity during the country’s war of independence in 1971.

In its ruling yesterday, the International Crimes Tribunal-2 found that five out of seven charges against 65-year-old Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujaheed – including the murder of intellectuals and Hindus – were proven beyond doubt.

Mujaheed was given the death penalty for three charges including abduction and murder of journalist Sirajuddin Hossain, the conspiracy and extermination of other intellectuals and the murder and torture of Hindus. He also received life sentence for his role in the abduction torture and murder of composer Altaf Mahmud, freedom fighters Shafi Imam Rumi, Badi Uzzaman, Magfar Ahmed Chowdhury and others, along with five-year imprisonment for two other charges.

The sixth verdict in the controversial war crimes trial in Bangladesh comes two days after Jamaat’s spiritual leader Ghulam Azam was also found guilty of war crimes and sentenced to 90 years in prison.

Protesting against the verdict, the Jamaat party called for a nationwide strike today. In a press release, Jamaat’s current secretary general, Rafiqul Islam Khan, claimed that the tribunal’s case against Mujaheed was “false” and part of a government conspiracy to make Jamaat “leaderless”.

Bangladesh has been reeling from day-long strikes since Monday, which has led to numerous incidents of violence across the country, leaving nine dead, according to local media reports.

Jamaat had opposed the liberation war of Bangladesh in 1971. Like many of Jamaat’s senior leaders, Mujaheed rose up the ranks during the war, initially as the president of Islami Chhatra Sangha’s (ICS) Dhaka Chapter in January 1971.

Later that year, Mujaheed became the president of Al Badr, a specialised faction of the ICS that carried out mass murder, genocide, kidnapping and looting under his leadership across the country.

Even after the Pakistani forces surrendered on 16 December 1971, Mujaheed had refused to allow his forces to lay down their arms. After the war, Mujaheed joined Jamaat, becoming a member of its central council in 1982. Before rising to the position of secretary general in 2000, he also served as the social welfare minister of Bangladesh in 1991 when the Bangladesh Nationalist Party allied with Jamaat to form a coalition government.

Earlier, in 2010, Mujaheed had claimed that Jamaat’s opposition to independence was a political decision and that its leaders were never part of crimes against humanity.

“Such statements disrespected the cause for which many martyrs like my father had sacrificed their lives,” Shaheen Reza Noor, son of Sirajuddin Hossain and the executive editor of the Bengali daily newspaper Ittefaq, told The Independent.

“Over the past 42 years, Jamaat has been trying to change the true history by calling the liberation war, a ‘civil war’. We are satisfied with the verdict as now the truth has been proven beyond doubt,” he added.

Bangladesh’s law minister, barrister Shafique Ahmed felt that the verdict has “fulfilled the nation’s expectation” which was “overdue by 42 years”.

However, when asked about the implementation of the verdict, Mr Ahmed said: “It is tough to say. There will be a month’s time during which there can be an appeal. If there is an appeal, the hearing will then commence at the appellate division.”

“There could be some delays in the implementation of the verdict. But hopefully the sentence will be carried out,” added Mr Noor.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
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

Guru Careers: .NET Developer / Web Developer

£35-45K (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a .NET Developer / Web ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Accountant

£12000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A national firm of chartered ce...

Recruitment Genius: Full Time and Part Time Digital Designer - North Kent

£20000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful web design/deve...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders