Bangladesh amends war crimes law, mulls banning Islamists
By Anis Ahmed
DHAKA (Reuters): Bangladesh’s parliament, meeting the demands of protesters thronging the capital, amended a law on Sunday allowing the state to appeal any verdict in war crimes trials it deems inadequate and out of step with public opinion.
Tens of thousands of demonstrators jamming central Shahbag Square for the 13th day burst into cheers amid driving rain as the assembly approved the changes.
The protesters have been demanding the death penalty for war crimes after a tribunal this month sentenced a prominent Islamist to life in prison in connection with Bangladesh’s 1971 war of independence from Pakistan.
The life sentence pronounced on Abdul Quader Mollah, assistant Secretary General of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, for murder, rape and torture had stunned many Bangaldeshis.
The amendment will “empower the tribunals to try and punish any organizations, including Jamaat-e-Islami, for committing crimes during country’s liberation war in 1971”, Law Minister Shafique Ahmed said after the change was approved. ….