Dhaka – A special war crimes tribunal on Wednesday sentenced a former Bangladeshi lawmaker to death for crimes committed during the country’s war of liberation from Pakistan, officials said.
A three-member panel of judges led by Justice M Anwarul Haque handed down the punishment to Shahkhawat Hossain, a former leader of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami party, at a crowded court in Dhaka.
The 62-yar old politician was convicted of genocide, rape, torture and other crimes against humanity during the nine-month war of liberation with Pakistan.
The court also sentenced seven others to life in prison for committing war crimes.
The International Crimes Tribunal completed the trial process on July 14 and kept the verdict waiting for any day.
Of the accused, six are on the run. They are: Ibrahim Hossain, Sheikh Mohammad Mujibur Rahman, M Abdul Aziz Sardar, MA Aziz, Kazi Ohidul and Abdul Khalek Morol.
Shakhawat Hossain and Billal Hossain among the accused were on the dock when the judge pronounced the sentence.
Another accused, Lutfar Morol, died in prison in 2015.
On September 8, 2015, the international Crimes tribunal (ICT) took the charges of war crimes against the nine accused into cognizance.
On November 29, 2014, law enforcers detained Maulana Sakhawat Hossain from Dhaka’s Uttarkhan neighbourhood on the ground of murder and mass killing against Sakhawat in line with investigation on Bangladesh’s war.
Shakhawat was a central committee member of the then Islami Chhatra Sangha (now Islami Chhatra Shibir) during the 1971 independence war. He was in-charge of Hisladanga Razakar camp in Keshabpur to aid the Pakistan army and carry out torture on unarmed civilians.
He was elected MP on Jamaat ticket from Keshabpur constituency in 1991.He was also nominated by Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) in the February 15 election in 1996 while Jatiya Party nominated him for the January 5, 2014 election.
His candidature in the latest election was cancelled as he was accused in war crimes charges.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina set up the special tribunal in 2010 to prosecute local collaborates of Pakistani military – both responsible for genocide, rape, arson and other crimes against humanity.
An earlier initiative to prosecute the war crimes was called off after the assassination of Bangladesh’s founding president Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, father of Hasina, in a military putsch in 1975.
The tribunal has so far handed down verdicts on 34 defendants for crimes against humanity, murder and rape in 22 cases.
Twenty-one were sentenced to death, 12 to life in prison and one to 90 years in jail. Five have been executed, while two died in prison.
The most recent execution was that of Motiur Rahman Nizami, 73, head of the Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami party in May.
The others were fellow Jamaat-e-Islami leaders Abdul Kader Mollah, Mohammad Kamaruzzaman, Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed, and Bangladesh Nationalist Party leader Salauddin Quader Chowdhury