Bangladesh Islamist Delwar Sayeedi death sentence commuted

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Media captionDelwar Hossain Sayeedi was found guilty of genocide, killing and rape, as Akbar Hossein reports

Bangladesh's Supreme Court has commuted the death sentence given to Islamist leader Delwar Hossain Sayeedi to life imprisonment.

The country's war crimes tribunal sentenced Sayeedi to death in February 2013 for crimes against humanity.

He was found guilty of genocide, killing and rape during the 1971 independence war in Bangladesh.

The conviction of Sayeedi, a Jamaat-e-Islami party leader, sparked protests last year leaving more than 100 dead.

Attorney General Mahbubey Alam told reporters that the court ruled that Sayeedi should spend "the rest of his natural life" in jail.

Security had been tightened ahead of the ruling with thousands of police, elite security forces and paramilitary border guards deployed in major cities and towns.

Popular preacher

Sayeedi was found guilty of killing two men in Pirojpur in southern Bangladesh in 1971.

He was also found guilty of helping Pakistani soldiers to abduct and rape three women; torturing people; looting and setting fire to Hindus' houses; forcing Hindus to convert to Islam; and forcing Hindus to leave the country, reported The Daily Star newspaper.

Sayeedi was one of the country's most popular Islamic preachers, drawing hundreds of thousands to preaching sessions when he was still active.

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