Former Bangladesh MP sentenced to death for 1971 ‘war crimes’

DHAKA: A court in Bangladesh on Thursday sentenced two elderly people to death for what it declared were crimes against humanity during the war in then-East Pakistan in 1971.

They include Abdul Khaleq Mandol, who is a district head for the opposition Jamaat-i-Islami party and a former lawmaker, and Khan Rokonuzzaman, who is absconding.

A three-judge bench of the so-called International Crimes Tribunal announced the verdict. The tribunal was set up in 2010 by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, daughter of Awami League founder Sheikh Mujib ur-Rahman, when she returned for a second term.

Her opponents say she is using the tribunal against the two biggest opposition parties, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and the Jamaat-e-Islami.

Former prime minister Begum Khaleda Zia, Hasina’s arch-rival and leader of the BNP, has called the tribunal a “farce”. Rights groups have criticised it for failing to adhere to standards of international law.

Matiur Rahman Akand, the lawyer representing the Jamaat leader, said they will file an appeal in the high court against the verdict.

Mandol, a retired madrasa principal, was arrested in 2015. Later, he was charged with war crimes.

When the trial started in 2018, there were four accused, but two of them died due to old age and health-related complications.

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