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Bangladesh Third Jamaat-i-Islami leader found guilty

World News – A Bangladesh war crimes tribunal sentenced a Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) leader to death on Thursday, the third verdict by the court set up to investigate abuses during the country’s independence war.

Delwar Hossain Sayedee, 73, vice-president of the JI, was found guilty of charges of mass killing, rape, arson, looting and forcing minority Hindus to convert to Islam during the 1971 independence war, lawyers and tribunal officials said.

The religious party, known as Jamaat, called for a day-long countrywide strike in anticipation of the verdict against Sayedee, the third senior party member convicted by the tribunal. The strike call was largely ignored.

“The verdict has appropriately demonstrated justice. We are happy,” state prosecutor Haider Ali told reporters. Jamaat officials were not immediately available for comment. They condemned the two earlier convictions.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina set up the tribunal in 2010 to investigate abuses during the independence war that claimed about 3 million lives and during which thousands of women were raped.

The tribunal has been criticised by rights groups for failing to adhere to international standards of due process. Human Rights Watch cited defence lawyers, witnesses and investigators as saying they had been threatened.

Critics say the tribunal is being used by the prime minister as an instrument against her opponents in the two biggest opposition parties, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and the JI. Begum Khaleda Zia, Hasina’s arch rival and leader of the BNP, has called the tribunal a “farce”.

Hasina’s party has denied allegations of bias. Agencies

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