Bangladesh Jamaat leader sentenced to death

War tribunal convicts Mohammad Kamaruzzaman on charges of genocide and torture of unarmed civilians during 1971 war.
Previous convictions against Jamaat leaders led to protests and violence throughout Bangladesh [Al Jazeera]

A Bangladesh war crimes tribunal has convicted and sentenced assistant secretary-general of the Jamaat-e-Islami party to death, raising fears of clashes between the police and supporters of the Islamist leader.

Mohammad Kamaruzzaman, 59, was found guilty on charges of genocide and torture of unarmed civilians during the 1971 war for independence from Pakistan, lawyers and tribunal officials said on Thursday.

He had previously been acquitted for two of the seven original charges.
One of the charges that carried the death penalty was being a commander of a  massacre of 120 people.

Analyst David Bergman told Al Jazeera that there were cheers outside the court when the verdict was announced.

Kamaruzzaman, who had pleaded not guilty through his lawyers, was accused of committing multiple abuses during the country’s liberation war.

Previous convictions of other Jamaat-e-Islami leaders, including two that carried the death penalty, led to protests and violence throughout Bangladesh.

The supporters of the largest Islamic party in the country claim the tribunals are a politically-motivated attempt to persecute their leaders.

“The tribunal said that anyone who committed these crimes is an enemy of humanity,” Bergman said.

“The Jamaat-e-Islami will not be happy with this verdict, but it is unclear at this point whether there will be violence.”

The government says three million people died, but that number is disputed by other groups.

The Jamaat, a key part of an opposition coalition, had backed Pakistan during the independence war, but has denied its leaders were involved in war crimes.

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