Top Bangladesh Islamist Mujahid has death sentence upheld

Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid (image from July 2013) Image copyright AFP
Image caption Mujahid had previously served as a minister from 2001 to 2006

Bangladesh's Supreme Court has upheld a death sentence against an influential Islamist leader over war crimes during the 1971 war of independence.

Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid belongs to the Jamaat-e-Islami party, which called a strike for Wednesday over the ruling.

He was accused of mass killing and torture and convicted of five of seven charges by a war crimes tribunal.

Human rights groups have criticised the tribunal, saying it does not meet international standards.

While many Bangladeshis have welcomed the work of the tribunal, Jamaat supporters say it is a politically motivated attempt to eradicate its leaders.

Two other Islamist politicians have previously been executed after receiving death sentences from the tribunal.

In December 2013 Abdul Kader Mullah, assistant secretary general of Jamaat-e-Islami, was hanged after being found guilty on five of six counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes.

In April Mohammad Kamaruzzaman, also of Jamaat-e-Islami, was hanged after being found guilty of genocide.

Mujahid was found guilty of five charges, including abduction and murder. He was a student leader in 1971 and among those who opposed Bangladesh's independence from Pakistan.

The renewed controversy over the tribunal comes at a time of heightened tension between Islamists and their opponents in Bangladesh - three secular bloggers have been killed this year in attacks attributed to Islamist extremists.

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