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Abdul Quader Molla. — Photo by Reuters
Abdul Quader Molla. — Photo by Reuters

DHAKA: Bangladesh's Supreme Court on Tuesday sentenced a senior Islamist leader to death for mass murder, toughening the sentence originally handed down by the country's war crimes tribunal and sparking fresh violence.

Abdul Quader Molla, 65, the fourth-highest leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, had been given a life sentence in February by Bangladesh's International Crimes Tribunal.

The tribunal has since January convicted six Islamists of crimes related to the 1971 war, in which pro-independence fighters battled Pakistani forces which were helped by local Islamist leaders.

Molla's life sentence had sparked deadly protests and widespread riots and there was fresh unrest on Tuesday as he was sentenced to hang, with Jamaat supporters torching vehicles in the southeastern port city of Chittagong.

“There were about 2,000 Jamaat protesters. They rioted, torching a police van and a private car,” local police chief Mohammad Mohiuddin told AFP, adding police fired rubber bullets and tear gas.

Molla was convicted of rape, murder and mass murder including the killing of more than 350 unarmed Bengali civilians, a poet and a top journalist during the war when he was a physics student at Dhaka University.

Prosecutors described him as the “Butcher of Mirpur”, a Dhaka suburb where he committed most of the atrocities.

The conflict led to the creation of Bangladesh from what was then East Pakistan.

Defence lawyer Tajul Islam said: “We are stunned by the verdict. This is the first time in South Asian judicial history that a trial court sentence has been enhanced by a Supreme Court.”

Islam said the defence would seek a review of the verdict in their final attempt to avoid hanging, which the prosecution said could be carried out later this year once all legal appeals have been exhausted.

Jamaat has accused the country's secular government of trying to execute its entire leadership, three of whom have been sentenced to death by the war crimes court. A dozen others are being tried for their roles during the war.

The government maintains the trials are needed to heal the wounds of the conflict.

Bangladesh has struggled to come to terms with its violent birth.

The government says three million died during the war while independent estimates put the death toll at between 300,000 and 500,000.

The latest verdict could further inflame political tensions in the country, about four months before it holds elections. The main opposition party, an ally of Jamaat, leads in opinion polls.

In August the High Court declared the registration of Jamaat-e-Islami illegal, banning it from contesting the general election due in January.

The original life sentence passed in February triggered protests from Islamists, as well as from secular activists on the other side who had considered it too lenient.

Tens of thousands of secularists massed at a square in Dhaka for weeks afterwards, demanding his execution.

The protests forced parliament to change the law governing war crimes prosecutions, allowing prosecutors to appeal against the verdict and seek the death penalty in the Supreme Court.

Hundreds of secular protesters cheered as news of the latest verdict reached the capital's Shahbagh Square where they had massed since dawn.

“The Supreme Court judgement reflects the victory of the people who spent months on the roads to seek justice for the 1971 war crimes,” said Imran Sarkar, who had led the secular protest to seek death for Molla.

Unlike other war crimes courts, the Bangladesh tribunal is not endorsed by the United Nations. New York-based Human Rights Watch has said its procedures fall short of international standards.

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Comments (60) Closed

Cosmic Lion Sep 17, 2013 10:41am

Great job Bangladesh.

Mujtaba Sep 17, 2013 11:12am

This is so wrong :/

rimel Sep 17, 2013 11:10am


Syed Sep 17, 2013 11:23am

Before such harsh sentences are pronounced, some international organization or UNO be asked to carry out detail research about atrocities committed by Pakistan army and Jamat e Islami and also mukti bahmi. The figures appearing in Bangla desh media are execrated. If Jamat e Islami can be targeted and prosecuted, in the interest of justice Mukti bahmi should also be prosecuted for murdering thousands of innocent Biharis

Ashar Sep 17, 2013 11:36am

Controversial court decision will only bring more unrest to Bangladesh. Decision made based on fake facts based on mere propaganda has severely impacted the credibility of overall judicial process by Hasina Wajid govt. working under the patronage of anti pakistan , anti islam elements exported from India.

Idealist Sep 17, 2013 11:44am

@Cosmic Lion: khas kam jahan Pak , Thumbs up Bangladesh

shihabalmahmud Sep 17, 2013 11:46am

Justice is not equitable. Politics and transformational purposes.

harish goswami Sep 17, 2013 12:24pm

surprised there is no comment from pakistani readers. dont he deserve such punishment who has committed crime against humanity.?

harish goswami Sep 17, 2013 12:24pm

@Cosmic Lion: secular bangladesh is the only answer.

ramesh Sep 17, 2013 01:25pm

This man looks like born terriost

Shehzad Zafar Sep 17, 2013 01:23pm

What a joke to say that that Pakistan killed 40 lac people in former East Pakistan. For killing so many people you need man power and resources which were not present at that time. Killing of 40 to 50 thousand people can be accepted in which lot of people were from Bihari and West Pakistani origin. People must know about Indian forces killing sprees. It was also a shame that Pakistani army surrendered as all must have died there in the line of duty.

May be Bangladeshi government is adding people died in all their natural disasters, in the liberation war with West Pakistan. Bangladesh should move forwards and speak truth which is only way forward for this tiny country.

MSA Sep 17, 2013 01:35pm

There is something here to learn for Pakistan - eradicate TTP.

Imran Sep 17, 2013 01:43pm

Recipe for a civil war.

Dr Faisal Sep 17, 2013 02:12pm

@Shehzad Zafar: Every Pakistani and Bangladeshi national should read the book DEAD RECKONING by Sharmila Bose a Bengali Indian social scientist. She is objective, unbiased, doesn't play the blame game and has not been contradicted by those keen on history of the event. She has narrated the killings done by freedom fighters as well. I agree the nos quoted in the web and official versions in Bangladesh look inflated but Pakistanis cannot claim total innocence either. The sole inquiry commission report by Justice Hamood ur Rehman also rejects these claims. Our side has slept over the issue-probably like an ostrich trying to bury its head in sand. The event is unfinished on our side as well. I am a Pakistani and wish we would realize, I mean both sides that like Government in BD says the agenda is still unfinished. Lets try and punish those responsible on both sides or do a Reconciliation commission that they did in South Africa...people come and confess what they one should live with a guilt.......let truth be known to the world. Lets forgive them if we all agree on that. Living with anger is a punishment.

NHM Sep 17, 2013 02:48pm

why cant we send our maulvies to Bangladesh

naveed Sep 17, 2013 02:52pm

People like Mr. Molla were citizens of Pakistan, then, they fought for their country at that time. Only because they lost the war does not give a carte blanche to the victors to victimize them whichever way they want. The highly questionable trials, the peculiar timing of handing down the capital punishments all indicate a political maneuver , nothing else. Had there been any substance in the charges leveled against these people, they would have been annihilated in the times of late Sheikh Mujeeb Ur Rehman, whom we regard the epitome of Bengali nationalism.

Hussian Sep 17, 2013 02:53pm

Bangladesh is going right direction

naveed Sep 17, 2013 03:01pm

@ramesh: how come?

Saifur Rahman Sep 17, 2013 03:21pm

@Dr Faisal: Brilliant comments!!

rehman Sep 17, 2013 03:41pm

@Shehzad Zafar: you meankiling 30 thousans to 50 thousand is ok and normal are you or butcher

fairy Sep 17, 2013 03:50pm

@Dr Faisal: i wanted to say a lot but could not put it bette than Dr. Faisal. Totally agreed and thousands of thumbs up for your comment. And all those who are joyous on this verdict should remember death is not something to celebrate.

Divakar Sep 17, 2013 03:52pm

@Ashar: Get well soon.

Justiceman Sep 17, 2013 03:57pm

We should hang some moulvis in Pakistan as well seeing the hate they have spread and the oppressive laws they have lobbied to implement.

Azhar Sep 17, 2013 04:04pm

We got our 90 thousands prisoners free to return home, but those East Pakistan Bengalis who wanted to keep Pakistan united are paying the price.Here not even a word to condemn this injustice in our National Assembly.

naghman qureshi Sep 17, 2013 04:46pm

i praise the secular courts in bangladesh let the people in pakistan follow them.

Joe Sep 17, 2013 05:23pm

@Mujtaba: Hang all terrorist, this so called jamat islamic is the big Terror organization they preach hatred among teenagers, giving them guns instead of pens, and books. This man looks like a THUG hang him high so others take a lesson from his death. Do not bring religion to politics. Go invest on Science and technology and betterment of Humanity instead of preaching Hate. Freaking hate war mongore. Kudos to Bangladesh, Pak should take some lesson from Bangladesh justice system,

naghman qureshi Sep 17, 2013 05:37pm

@Mujtaba: really.extremism should not be tolerated under any circumstances in any religion.

Ganesh (India) Sep 17, 2013 05:37pm

@Shehzad Zafar: It says 3 - 5 lac people... not 40 lacs. So you can accept killing of 40 -50 thousand people !!!!!!.

Ganesh (India) Sep 17, 2013 05:38pm

I thinlk What Bangladesh doing is excellent example. They are fixing their own house ( punishing first Bangladeshi people of involving in crime.. ) Then they have moral right to ask others for justice. Bangladesh has set wonderful example to be followed in such crimes for entire world..... Well done Bagnladesh...

AHA Sep 17, 2013 05:48pm

Will Bangladesh ever investigate the atrocities committed by Mukhti Bahini and punish those who committed those crimes.

And, of course, will Pakistani ever investigate the atrocities committed, and being committed, by its military, not just in East Pakistan but also in what is left of Pakistan, and punish those who committed those crimes.

Is this how we define justice.

md. mahede sabbir Sep 17, 2013 05:56pm

@Shehzad Zafar: Before commenting on any issue, u should know the accurate history what we have passed 43 years ago. Your Pakistani military did not show mandate our late great leader shek mujibur rahman holding the leadership of then awami league. Awami league with its alliance won 298 seats out of 300 seats in national election at that time. As a Democratic country, power should have been transfered to our leader, but your Pakistani military arrested our leader, send him to your country as a prisoner killing thousands of bangli people at 25th March whole country with our own betrail minor people. Your own current political leder imran Khan said that Pakistan should say sorry to Bangladesh for Pakistani military's misdeed at that time & your other political leader now prime minister said Pakistani military didn't show mandate to shek mujibur rahman. So its clear what ur country did to us at that time & if u don't believe me then u can check through internet.

farooq Mughal Sep 17, 2013 06:28pm

Now 40 years later they are being punished for fighting to save what was their country at that time. Mukti Bhahni terrorists who were trained and backed by Indian army , killed a large number of pro-Pakistani locals and Biharis are now actually making all the decision who needs to to be hanged and who lives. What a shame. BD has great potential to be a rapidly developing country but this kind of things will pull them back to the situation what we are going through in Pakistan. Its like secular "talibans" are ruling BD now.

Ali Sep 17, 2013 07:12pm

it's a good practice. such selfish people must be brought to the justice. our government also take strict measures in this regard.

Ali Sep 17, 2013 07:17pm

@ramesh: great

Ali Sep 17, 2013 07:13pm

@ramesh: great

Thaer Khan Sep 17, 2013 07:27pm

The book Dead Reckoning by Sarmila bose is an excellent and unbiased account of the events from March to December 71; it becomes all the more authentic considering her academic standing and her ethhinicity / nationality. Every sane person irrespective of nationality must read this book before forming an opinion on the subject; i would especially advise the young Pakistanis to read this book to avoid falling in for baseless propaganda.

Khan Sep 17, 2013 07:32pm

When Pakistan will follow Bangladesh bold steps?

a Sep 17, 2013 07:30pm

More people have been killed by the current war on terror, than what is listed in the above article about Bangladesh. Just a point for thought.

Ashraf Ahmed Sep 17, 2013 07:37pm

It's the top most clean judgment over the south asia

Ashraf Ahmed Sep 17, 2013 07:40pm

As you are a Pakistani, that's why you are saying like that

Aqil Siddiqi Sep 17, 2013 07:45pm

@Cosmic Lion: We should do same to every single Talibani too. Way to go Bangladesh.

shakirally Sep 17, 2013 08:04pm

@harish goswami: secular Pakistan is the only answer. The great Bang-Bondhu must be turning in the grave to see his dream gone sour

Iqbal Khan Sep 17, 2013 08:10pm

I am a Pakistani and extremely happy to learn that this guy is being hanged.Hope our leaders learn something from this.

M. Emad Sep 17, 2013 08:23pm

Sharmila Bose's so called 'research' and book financed by Pakistan Army.

humanity_crying Sep 17, 2013 08:38pm

@Imran: You can also see it as a recipe for a revolution that we don't want these butchers of humanity to exist in our society anymore.

Anwar kamal Sep 17, 2013 08:43pm

@Ashar:All the the complaints against him has been proved.He appeal against the verdict of Tribunal and the Supreme court ordered this verdict.

ashok Sep 17, 2013 09:06pm

@Ashar: To comment on Alaha,you must read Quran and understand it, T0 comment on India,you must read the concept on which India was concived by Gandhi Jee. We are Indian First and anything else afterwards.

Nesar Sep 17, 2013 09:13pm

Definitely Bangladesh is in right direction after all these 42 years of propaganda politics. The new generation in Bangladesh is up for that, sign showed the upraise at Shahabugh sq in Feb 5th last year. Pakistan should do a reconciliation too by saying sorry to the people of Bangladesh. That's all they want to heal the enmity between two nations.

abc Sep 17, 2013 09:25pm

@Ashar: wah! wah! wah!!!!!!

Bablu Bhanja Chowdhury Sep 17, 2013 10:19pm

Mirpur cricket stadium is always welcoming Pakistan cricketers and always bursting into cheers under which a silent crying is going on.This verdict will end that curse up.

Bilal Bajwa Sep 17, 2013 10:47pm

Perhaps Bangladesh is going to become the true secular Pakistan of Jinnah

yousuf Sep 17, 2013 10:51pm

@Shehzad Zafar: it's very easy to blame india when you (pakistan) commit something wrong. come bangladesh and see how many people are crying here losing their relatives in 1971 by your army. i am not saying that india is pure, but killing 1 people or more than 3 million, raping 1 woman or 2 million, makes no difference to commit a sin.

syed wasim haider Sep 17, 2013 11:18pm

@harish goswami: There is no need for comment either rpm Pakistan, India or Bangladesh. Mother Nature did the justice; all three leaders responsible for the mass killing were killed by their own guards; by the way this was the start of sending terrorist in the form of Mukti Bhaani to neighbour country, Chattisgarh in India is inhabited by the then East Pakistanis bengalis women and living in sub human conditions. What the present Indian Govt. doing for these women.

Azhar S Zaidi Sep 18, 2013 06:24am

@harish goswami: The court decision is being hailed at FB. However, the numbers are far too many. It was a very sad part of our history.

Anwar kamal Sep 18, 2013 06:58am

Kader molla has been convicted as war criminal not as Islamist leader.

Easin Sep 18, 2013 09:11am

@Shehzad Zafar: Well truth is number of murdered people was approx. 30 lacs. If you really want to know the prove please read international article, journal. Not only Pakistani history that you have been taught. Well my point is not to dig out past history but what would you do if your own people betrayed (traitor) with our own country? War happened in our world. But a traitor is the most hateful man even from the enemy. I hope you understand my point.

BINISH Sep 18, 2013 09:56am

Unlike other war crimes courts, the Bangladesh tribunal is not endorsed by the United Nations. New York-based Human Rights Watch has said its procedures fall short of international standards.

ramesh Sep 18, 2013 01:02pm

@naveed: cant u see the picture

Rafiq Durrani Sep 18, 2013 10:48pm

Brilliant news

dada Sep 19, 2013 06:38am

@Dr Faisal:

She wrote that book to get tenure-ship in British university. Such paid historians are dime a dozen. One Stanley Wolpert wrote biography of Jinah to make him a new prophet. Once America's use of Pakistan's Army was over, no one talks about his book. Bose's book fall in that category. After 2014 no one will know about it and she might write another book if paid well to counter what she wrote in earlier book. BA (Hon.) babus are used for lying only.