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Bangladesh: Former Member of Parliament Receives Death Sentence

(Mar. 12, 2013) On February 28, 2013, the Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal (ICT), in its third decision to date, found a former Member of Parliament guilty of genocide, rape, and religious persecution. (Chief Prosecutor v. Sayeedi, ICT-BD Case No. 01 of 2011 (Feb. 28, 2013), available at THE DAILY STAR.) The decision concerned Delowar Hossain Sayeedi, a Member of the National Assembly of Bangladesh from 1996 to 2008 and one of the most prominent leaders of the Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami Party. Sayeedi was given the death penalty. (Id.)

The ICT is a war crimes tribunal in Bangladesh set up to investigate and bring to trial suspects accused of participation in the atrocities committed by the Pakistan Army and their local collaborators during the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971. In 1973, the Government of Bangladesh passed the International Crimes (Tribunal) Act (Act No. XIX of 1973, July 20, 1973, LAWS OF BANGLADESH), to provide for the detention, prosecution and punishment of persons for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and other crimes under international law. The ICT was established under the current Bangladeshi government pursuant to that law, as amended in 2009 and 2010. (T.J., Bangladesh’s War-Crimes Trials: Bloodletting After the Fact, BANYAN [a blog of THE ECONOMIST] (Mar. 1, 2013, 8:23).)

In its first decision, issued in January 2013, Abul Kalam Azad, who was accused of genocide, rape, abduction, confinement, and torture, was tried in absentia. He was found guilty of seven out of eight charges and sentenced to death. (Shameema Rahman, Bangladesh: Convicted War Criminal Sentenced to Death, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR (Jan. 25, 2013).)

The second trial involved Abdul Quader Molla, who in February 2013 was convicted on five out of six counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes. The verdict caused large-scale protests both inside and outside Bangladesh, including some that called for a death sentence instead of the life term handed down. (Syeda Naushin Parnini, War Crime Verdicts and Systemic Fragility in Bangladesh’s Democracy, EAST ASIA FORUM (Feb. 28, 2013).)