In Bangladesh, Another Death Sentence

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NEW DELHI -- Bangladesh's war-crimes tribunal on Tuesday sentenced Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury, an opposition lawmaker, to death for rape, mass murder and torture dating back to the country's 1971 war of independence from Pakistan.

It was the seventh death sentence to be handed down by the tribunal. Virtually every major turn in the legal process has sparked riots, either by Islamist protesters or secular ones, and the authorities on Tuesday had beefed up security in the capital, Dhaka, and in Chittangong, Mr. Chowdhury's native region.

Mr. Chowdhury, 64, is aligned with the Bangladeshi Nationalist Party, which is expected to make gains at parliamentary elections in January.

He was charged with killing 200 civilians and assisting Pakistan's army in torture and mass murder during the nine-month conflict.

The war crimes tribunal has underlined unresolved tensions over the 1971 war, in which Bangladesh, a largely Muslim country, broke away from Pakistan at the cost of an estimated 3 million lives. Human Rights Watch has criticized the tribunal, saying it was marred by "a strong judicial bias toward the prosecution."

Opposition forces have dismissed the tribunals as politically motivated. Jamaat-e-Islami, an Islamist opposition party allied with the Bangladeshi Nationalist Party, has been barred by a Supreme Court ruling from participating in the January polls.

world

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


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