Islamist leader loses final appeal

File photograph taken on October 29, 2014, shows Bangladeshi Jamaat-e-Islami party leader Motiur Rahman Nizami as he sits inside a van while being taken to a prison after being sentenced at the International Crimes Tribunal court in Dhaka. Bangladeshs Supreme Court on May 5, 2016Image copyright

The head of Bangladesh’s largest Islamist party has lost a final appeal against his death sentence for war crimes committed during the war of independence from Pakistan in 1971.

Motiur Rahman Nizami was seeking a review of the Supreme Court decision to uphold the war crimes tribunal verdict.

He was convicted of genocide, rape and torture, charges the defence said were not proven beyond reasonable doubt.

Clemency from the president is now his only hope.

Four politicians have so far been hanged for war crimes since the controversial tribunal was set up in 2010.

Bangladesh war crimes tribunal: The key accused

Bangladesh independence war, 1971

  • Civil war erupts in Pakistan, pitting the West Pakistan army against East Pakistanis demanding autonomy and later independence
  • Fighting forces an estimated 10 million East Pakistani civilians to flee to India
  • In December, India invades East Pakistan in support of the East Pakistani people
  • Pakistani army surrenders at Dhaka and its army of more than 90,000 become Indian prisoners of war
  • East Pakistan becomes the independent country of Bangladesh on 16 December 1971
  • Exact number of people killed is unclear – Bangladesh says it is three million but independent researchers say it is up to 500,000 fatalities

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina set up the war crimes tribunal to look into abuses during the independence war.

Correspondents say Nizami is one of the most important figures to be found guilty by this controversial court.

Critics have said the government is using the tribunal to target political opponents. Human Rights Watch has previously said the court’s procedures are not up to international standards.

The Awami League, which leads the current government, says it is necessary to help the country come to terms with its past.

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