Conflict & Justice

Bangladesh protest demands death penalty for war crimes leader


The organisers of the protest called for a grand rally on Friday, a weekend day in Bangladesh, to urge the authorities to reconsider war criminal, Abdul Kader Mullah's life sentence.

Thouands more people have joined a five-day demonstration in Bangladesh, demanding convicted war criminal, Abdul Quader Mollah, face the death penalty.

In the city of Dhaka, there has been an extraordinary outpouring of feeling since Mollah was given life on Tuesday for crimes including torture, murder and rape during the 1971 independence war, the BBC reported.

The BBC's Anbarasan Ethirajan in Dhaka said people from all walks of life, including doctors, professors and sports personalities, were taking part in what is the biggest demonstration in recent years.

"We will not return home unless we get justice, complete justice," Shakil Ahmed, a college student, told the Associated Press news agency.

"I did not see 1971, but those who killed our people and helped Pakistani troops in their effort to halt the creation of Bangladesh should be hanged."

The protest began Tuesday when an International Crimes Tribunal sentenced Mollah, 64, assistant secretary general for the Jamaat-e-Islami party, to life in prison, CNN reported.

Thousands began holding vigils in Dhaka calling for the death penalty for party leaders on trial for the mass killings.

Meanwhile Mollah's supporters called for his immediate release and clashed with police earlier in the week.

Paramilitary troopers have been called in to maintain law and order in the region.

Mollah was found guilty of five of six charges, including murder, but was defiant as the verdict was read. 

He stood up and declared he was innocent and began to curse the judges and the government, media reported.

Mollah, who was the chief of the students' wing of Jamaat-e-Islami in 1971, is the first Jamaat-e-Islami leader convicted in a war-crimes case by the tribunal.

Official estimates say more than three million people were killed in the 1971 war, the BBC reported.