AP, DHAKA, Feb 23, 2013 – Thousands of students have rallied in Bangladesh’s capital demanding death to several Islamic political party leaders who are on trial for alleged war crimes during the country’s 1971 independence war.
Eight top leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami, the country’s largest Islamic party, are being tried on charges of mass killings, rapes and arson during Bangladesh’s nine-month war of separation from Pakistan.
Earlier this month, a tribunal convicted party leader Abdul Quader Mollah of mass killings during the war and sentenced him to life in prison, a verdict considered lenient by many Bangladeshis.
On Saturday, about 5,000 students shouted “Death to the killers” as they rallied in Dhaka, the capital.
The government says it will appeal Mollah’s sentence before the Supreme Court this coming week, asking for the death penalty for 65-year-old.
As a member of Jamaat’s student wing Islami Chatra Sangha, Quader Molla joined Al-Badr and, according to charges framed against him, led a mass killing in Mirpur, thus earning the name Butcher of Mirpur among locals.
He was also responsible for the shooting of 344 people, the rape of an 11-year-old girl, and the beheading of a poet.
After the formation of Bangladesh’s International Crimes Tribunal in 2009 to prosecute those who participated in the war’s genocide, he was arrested 13 July 2010, and more than a year later on 18 December 2011, he was formally charged with six charges and 344 counts of murder.
On 5 February 2013, he was given a life sentence, with an additional 15-year sentence, for his crimes.