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Bangladesh: First Execution of War Criminal Convicted by International Crimes Tribunal

(Jan. 9, 2014) Islamist leader Abdul Kader Mullah, convicted of atrocities in Bangladesh’s 1971 war of independence from Pakistan, was executed in Bangladesh on December 12, 2013. The 65-year-old was the first person convicted by Bangladesh’s International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) to be executed. (Mahfuz Sadique, Bangladesh Islamist Abdul Kader Mullah Hanged forWar Crimes, BBC NEWS (Dec. 12, 2013).) Delowar Hossain Sayeedi, another alleged war criminal, was also sentenced to the death penalty by the ICT on February 28, 2013, on conviction of crimes against humanity, including looting, killing, arson, rape, and forcible religious conversion during the liberation war in 1971. (The Chief Prosecutor v. Delowar Hossain Sayeedi, ICT-BD Case No. 01 OF 2011 (Feb. 28, 2013); Delwar Hossain Sayeedi Gets Death Sentence, TAZA KHOBOR (Feb. 28, 2013).)

Mullah was a senior leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami party and was convicted of rape, murder, and mass murder, including the killing of more than 350 unarmed Bengali civilians. He was sentenced to death by the High Court in September, which revised an ICT sentence of life in prison that had been pronounced in February 2013. (Kader Mullah’s Execution Likely Tonight, NEWSNEXTBD.COM (Dec. 10, 2013).) Mullah’s appeal for a final review of his death sentence was dismissed. (Top Jamaat Leader Hanged in Bangladesh for War Crimes, EXPRESS TRIBUNE (Dec. 12, 2013).)

The ICT is a war crimes tribunal in Bangladesh set up to investigate and bring to trial suspects accused of participation in the atrocities committed by the Pakistani Army and its local collaborators during the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971, in which three million people were killed, according to some estimates. (LisaSharlach, Rape as Genocide: Bangladesh, the Former Yugoslavia, and Rwanda, 22:1 NEW POLITICAL SCIENCE 94 (2000).)

In 1973, the Government of Bangladesh passed the International Crimes (Tribunal) Act (Act No. XIX of 1973 (July 20, 1973), LAWS OF BANGLADESH), to provide for the detention, prosecution, and punishment of persons for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and other crimes under international law. The ICT was established by the current Bangladeshi government in 2009 pursuant to that law, which was amended in 2009 and 2010. (Shameema Rahman, Bangladesh: Former Member of Parliament Receives Death Sentence, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR (Mar. 12, 2013).)