Bangladesh sentences JI vice-president to death for war crimes

Published: February 28, 2013
Jamaat-e-Islami leader Delwar Hossain Sayedee (C) emerges from the Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal in Dhaka on August 10, 2011. PHOTO: AFP

Jamaat-e-Islami leader Delwar Hossain Sayedee (C) emerges from the Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal in Dhaka on August 10, 2011. PHOTO: AFP

DHAKA: A Bangladesh war crimes tribunal sentenced the vice-president of Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) to death on Thursday, the third verdict by the court set up to investigate abuses during the 1971 war.

Delwar Hossain Sayedee, 73, was found guilty of charges of mass killing, rape, arson, looting and forcing minority Hindus to convert to Islam in 1971, lawyers and tribunal officials said.

The religious party called for a day-long countrywide strike in anticipation of the verdict against Sayedee, the third senior party member convicted by the tribunal.

The strike call was largely ignored.

“The verdict has appropriately demonstrated justice. We are happy,” state prosecutor Haider Ali told reporters.

Jamaat officials were not immediately available for comment. They condemned the two earlier convictions.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina set up the tribunal in 2010 to investigate abuses during the war that claimed about three million lives and during which thousands of women were raped.

The tribunal has been criticised by rights groups for failing to adhere to international standards of due process.  Human Rights Watch cited defence lawyers, witnesses and investigators as saying they had been threatened.

Critics say the tribunal is being used by the prime minister as an instrument against her opponents in the two biggest opposition parties, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and the Jamaat-e-Islami. Begum Khaleda Zia, Hasina’s arch rival and leader of the BNP, has called the tribunal a “farce”.

Hasina’s party has denied allegations of bias.

Rival protests

On January 21, the tribunal sentenced Abul Kalam Azad, a former Jamaat member to death in absentia after he was found guilty of torture, rape and genocide during Bangladesh’s 1971 war.

In its second verdict, on February 5, the tribunal sentenced another senior Jamaat member, Abdul Quader Mollah, 64, to life in prison after he was found guilty of charges including murder, rape, torture and arson.

Both of the verdicts sparked protests by Jamaat supporters.

But those protests incited larger counter-demonstrations by supporters of the tribunal demanding death sentences for all those responsible for abuses during the war.

At least a dozen people have been killed in days of protests by both sides across the country that have followed.

Thousands of people in the capital’s Shahbag Square, who have been protesting for weeks to demand the “highest penalty” for war criminals, burst into cheers as the verdict was announced.

Another nine people are awaiting trial, most of them Jamaat members.

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Reader Comments (22)

  • Morons
    Feb 28, 2013 - 2:26PM

    Impressed by the justice system of Bangladesh. The country has climbed up spots in my good books.


  • Real Bloch
    Feb 28, 2013 - 2:51PM

    Pakistan should intervene. They have put on trial based on their own fabricated stories which is the sole reason for Bangladesh survival. You cant fool people much on the stories which are based lies and deceit.


  • Sonya
    Feb 28, 2013 - 2:57PM

    What about their second half who lives in west Pakistan and happens to be the B team of Pakistan’s establishment?


  • Feb 28, 2013 - 3:11PM

    JI in Bangladesh and pakistan is same, forever a source of religious extremism. The difference is that while Bangladesh has tamed them with iron hand, we r nurturing them and their progenies for our strategic goals in Afghanistan and kashimr, and for our own self-destruction.


  • jugnoo
    Feb 28, 2013 - 3:27PM

    Pak should learn lesson from Bangladesh example.


  • goggi
    Feb 28, 2013 - 4:42PM

    I have great respect for these people of Brahmaputra civilisation.

    After their independence, they preferred their cultural identity over the religious mania of Islam and named their country Bangla-desh……………and not Islampura!

    Their national anthem, whose beautiful and heart-inspiring words and music come from Rabindranath Thakur, is a further testimony of their love for their motherland, culture and the ecology.

    I wish, that humanity, sanity and freedom prevail in Pakistan as well, which has become a victim of its own homegrown terror.

    My deepest condolences for the victims of heinous crimes in Bangladesh committed till 1971.


  • Gulam Rasool "Kuldeep sharma"
    Feb 28, 2013 - 5:23PM

    @ no doubt Bangladesh will be ahead from Pakistan, Good decision Indeed.

    Gulam Rasool “Kuldeep sharma”
    New Delhi


  • @rsehole
    Feb 28, 2013 - 6:09PM

    Respect, i am impressed we Indians could learn from the Bengalis , show us how to deal with fringe elements without politicking.


  • Zalmai
    Feb 28, 2013 - 7:16PM

    @Real Bloch

    “Pakistan should intervene. They have put on trial based on their own fabricated stories which is the sole reason for Bangladesh survival. You cant fool people much on the stories which are based lies and deceit.”

    On the contrary, Pakistan fabricated lies for the sole reason of its creation and survival. The two nation theory turned to three and Balochistan will make it four.


  • Feb 28, 2013 - 7:18PM

    @Real Bloch: Real Bloch, Sir it is sad that in spite of world wide well recorded evidence of the doings of these people you are talking that it is all fabrication and lies. How long we will keep denying the truth.


  • khurshid
    Feb 28, 2013 - 8:33PM

    It is sad to see how once the “heroes” declared “zeroes” by the history. Unfortunately we have not learnt our lesson and repeating same mistakes in Baluchistan and other part of our countries. When will we take action in the light of Hammod ur Rehman Commision? It is must for the survival of Pakistan to punish all those who committed serious crimes against civilians in Bengal.


  • Danish
    Feb 28, 2013 - 10:47PM

    The fact that Bangladeshi government waited some 40 years to start this tribunal is enough to doubt the intentions of Sheikh Hasina. She has been in power before so there’s no excuse left for her. Another fact which everyone should look into is why the JI leaders stayed in the country for 40 years if they knew they had done something wrong. They could have easily left for Pakistan and get settled here. No one would have opened a tribunal on them here. For all those so called “liberals” who are overjoyed should look at the political side of this move.


  • sara khan
    Mar 1, 2013 - 12:14AM

    What is Bangladesh trying to prove by hanging the wrong people?
    All people condemned so far belong to the same party. Why is it only opposition party members, and that too from a single party, who are being put to trial? where are the others?
    Isnt it more likely for the liberal-com-nationalists to have committed war crimes in the name of nationhood rather than religious party members who had a healty standing back in the 1970s?
    It was muslims against muslims, so why would muslim clerics commit rape of muslim women? wasnt it the pakistan army behind all this?


  • Bala
    Mar 1, 2013 - 1:13AM


    The last time I checked, pakistan was not willing to take-in any bengali even if they bleed pakistani…and were razakars …


  • Zisan Ahmed
    Mar 1, 2013 - 2:57AM

    Its 40 years coz most of the time the country was being ruled by wrong people like Zia & Ershad. The party which liberated the country came to power after a long time in 1996. But they (Sheikh Hasina) didn’t have the majority to change the constitution to start this trial. But as soon they got huge majority in 2009, they started it. Please don’t confuse others by such false information.

    @sara khan:
    Even they filed case against their own party leader recently, also a few BNP leaders are already in custody. Why are you confusing others?


  • Mar 1, 2013 - 9:57AM

    @Danish: Dear sir you have said “why the JI leaders stayed in the country for 40 years if they knew they had done something wrong. They could have easily left for Pakistan and get settled here. No one would have opened a tribunal on them here.” When you say “if they knew they had done something wrong” they should have come to Pakistan do you mean that Pakistan is a sanctuary for all the murderers and wrong doers of the world. Your own Hammod ur Rehman Commission has given detailed report please read it.
    Secondly I am sure that you know thousands of proclaimed Pakistanis are rotting in the refugee camps in Bangladesh and your government has done nothing to get them back home in last 40 years.


  • Danish
    Mar 1, 2013 - 7:52PM

    There are many Pakistanis who came to Pakistan in 1970s. I know the families. There are Bangladeshis who even have come in recent years. You would find lots of them as maids and servants in Karachi.
    @Zisan Ahmed
    If hanging the JI leaders was a prime demand of the Bangladeshis then they would have certainly voted for the ones who had it in their manifesto. If Khalida Zia didn’t want the trial to happened then she should be questioned too for her intentions. The fact is it is a political move and it would be reflected in the next elections. Someone had to be blamed for the killings and rapes that happened in 1971 and Hasina found the easy target in JI. The political advantages that she gains from this move is obvious. She breaks the back of the 3rd major political force and the major allies of her arch rival (Khalida Zia)


  • Danish
    Mar 1, 2013 - 7:53PM

    By settling in Pakistan I meant that Pakistan hasn’t put any allegations on JI for the 1971 happenings so it would have been a safe place. Just like if the mass killings in Asaam would trigger a new country to appear on the world map, then the people who are involved in Killings in Asaam would move to India because they would fear that they might be trialed. But the innocent people would stay in the new country.


  • Danish
    Mar 1, 2013 - 7:55PM

    @Vinod: Yes I know the families that are just dragging their lives in those camps and I feel sad for them. No political parties in Pakistan have done enough to bring them back to Pakistan. Some of them have been able to come to Pakistan managing their own finances but most of them are stranded.


  • Danish
    Mar 1, 2013 - 9:20PM

    JI is trialed by the pro-India Hasina government just for the reason that they didn’t support the separation from Pakistan. Being a religious party, they wanted the Muslims of the sub-continent to be under one country. After the separation took place, they didn’t finish their political party. They moved on. They have been an active participant in the assemblies.


  • Tejpal
    Mar 2, 2013 - 4:56AM

    I had witnessed the atrocities living near the now bangladesh border in India. Fortunately or unfortunately, the internet had not arrived like today, whence we are able to know these reports instantly. These are obviously supported by the then Pakistani establishment, I suppose it must be no different now as well. Obviously the present regime of Skeikh Hasina Wajid has suffered the worst. She must ensure justice to her father’s killers as well as the millions butchered during that time. Hundreds of thousands of women were raped and left out with illegitimate pregnancies, which further must have wrought havoc in the name of the Sharia law under the erstwhile rule.


  • Mar 2, 2013 - 6:23PM

    @Danish: Dear Sir, In Assam killings, it is one group verses the other who are killing each other but the state or the Army is not setting any group as it’s extended arm to carry out their job. See why the majority Indians are against Mr. Modi, the chief minister of Gujarat because there is strong suspicion that the state played a role. In Bangladesh these people who killed and did other atrocities should be tried as they were acting as the extended arm of the army that was defeated. We must be grateful to the people of Bangladesh who kept them in camps for 40 years and those who were supposed to be involved in crimes are being legally tried and punished.


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