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Bangladesh SC commutes death sentence of Jamaat leader Sayedee

Dhaka, Sep 17 (): The Supreme Court of Bangladesh on Wednesday commuted the death sentence given to a top Islamist leader condemned of war crimes during the war of liberation in 1971 to life imprisonment, the prosecution said.

A five-member bench of the apex court, headed by the Chief Justice Mohammad Muzammel Hossain, pronounced the verdict at 10.06 a.m. to Jamaat leader Delawar Hossain Sayedee.

Attorney General (AG) Mahbubey Alam, the additional, deputy and assistant AGs, prosecutors and defense counsels and a good number of journalists were present at the Supreme Court Appellate Division Court-1 when the verdict was pronounced.

Security was strengthened nationwide before delivering the ruling on Wednesday. The verdict was pronounced after thousands of police, the elite security force, Rapid Action Battalion, and the paramilitary border guards were positioned in major towns and cities.

The first verdict was given last year on February 28 to the leader, who is a leader of the country’s main Islamist party, the Jamaat-e-Islami. The pronouncement of death sentence had ignited violent protests in the country. Thousands of the activists of his party swarmed the streets and attacked police with swords, sticks and crude bombs. 60 people were killed in the protest.

The 74-year old Sayedee was condemned on eight charges including murder, rape and persecution of the country’s minority Hindu community.

Last year, on March 28 Sayedee filed a petition with the Supreme Court pursuing release on all charges. The government filed a separate appeal on the same day, seeking punishment for Sayedee on all eight charges.

The other charges Sayedee was condemned of contain of his relationship with the soldiers of Pakistan to kidnap three women and rape them, mistreating people, robbing and setting the houses of Hindus in fire, forcing them to convert to Islam in Pirojpur, and forcing them to leave the country in 1971.