B'desh tribunal sentences ex-minister to death for war crimes

B'desh tribunal sentences ex-minister to death for war crimes

A former Bangladeshi minister was today sentenced to death by a special tribunal for committing crimes against humanity by siding with Pakistani troops during the country's 1971 liberation war.

The three-member panel of International Crimes Tribunal-2 handed down the capital punishment to 73-year-old Syed Mohammad Kaisar as he appeared on the dock under tight security escorts from Dhaka Central Jail.

"He (Kaisar) shall be hanged by neck until he is dead," chairman of the panel Justice Obaidul Hassan pronounced saying 14 out of 16 charges against him was proved beyond doubt during the trial.

A minister in the cabinet of former military ruler HM Ershad, whose Jatiya Party is ally of ruling Awami League, Kaisar had constituted a special militia force to carryout atrocities in north-eastern Habiganj, his hometown, and neighbouring Brahmanbaria.

He had named the infamous group after him – the Kaisar Bahini. The charges against the convict included massacre, rape, extortion, arson and torture.

The court sentenced him to death on seven charges and life sentence and other terms in the rest of the proven charges.

Under one of the major charges Kaisar led a joint group of official Razakar militia force, pro-Pakistani so-called peace Committee and members of his own Kaisar Bahini to assist the Pakistani troops in an attack on civilians in 20 villages when over 100 people were killed on November 15, 1971.

A total of 32 witnesses, one being a "war child" who was born as a result of rape of a woman, testified against Kaisar while another of the witnesses was a member of the Kaisar Bahini.

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