DHAKA, Feb. 28 — Delwar Hossain Sayeedi, believed to be the second-most important leader of Bangladesh’s largest Islamist party, was sentenced to death in capital Dhaka Thursday for war crimes including mass killings.
The International Crimes Tribunal (ICT)-1 pronounced the verdict Thursday afternoon on a crimes against humanity case, awarding death sentence to the Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islmai party’s Nayeb-e-Ameer (vice-president) Sayeedi, also a former member of parliament.
Chief Justice of the ICT-1 ATM Fazle Kabir read the summary of the 120-page verdict at a jam-packed court room in the presence of a huge crowd of people particularly journalists and lawyers amid beefed up security measures in and around the tribunal and across the capital city, specially at key points.
About 73-year old Sayeedi, considered a world famous orator on Islam and comparative religion, was indicted in October 2011 with 20 charges of crimes against humanity including looting, killing, arson, rape and forcefully converting people into Muslims during the war.
Bangladeshi Attorney General Mahbubey Alam told reporters that “Eight charges including murder against Sayeedi were proved beyond a reasonable doubt leading to a death sentence to the leader of Jamaat.”
Jamaat, allegedly collaborated with Pakistani forces in 1971 to prevent an independent Bangladesh, says Sayeedi is the victim of a political vendetta.
In his opening remarks before pronouncing verdict, the tribunal chief said this verdict is not against a prominent Islamic personality and politician Sayeedi. “We’re giving our verdict against that Sayeedi who has been charged with crimes against humanity in 1971,” he said.
More than four decades after Bangladesh’s independence, ICT-2 on Jan. 21 pronounced its maiden verdict on crimes against humanity case awarding death sentence to the fugitive and expelled Jamaat leader Abul Kalam Azad.
Later the tribunal on Feb. 5 pronounced verdict on a crimes against humanity case awarding life imprisonment to Assistant Secretary General of Jamaat Abdul Quader Mollah.