Thu, Sep 19, 2013 - Page 6 News List

Violent protests erupt in Bangladesh after Islamist leader’s death sentence

AFP, DHAKA

One person was killed in Bangladesh yesterday as violent protests erupted across the country after a court sentenced a senior Islamist leader to death for mass murder, police said.

A rickshaw driver died after being hit with stones during a protest in southern Bangladesh by supporters of the country’s largest Islamist party.

Elsewhere, brick-throwing demonstrators battled with police, who retaliated with rubber bullets and tear gas, officers said.

The violence comes as towns and cities shut down after the Jamaat-e-Islami party called a nationwide strike to protest the death sentence handed on Tuesday to Abdul Quader Mollah for crimes committed during the country’s 1971 war of independence.

“The autorickshaw driver came under attack from Jamaat supporters at a place called Talerchar this morning. He was hit by several stones,” said Anisur Rahman, police chief of Noakhali.

“He was rushed to a hospital at Companyganj in Noakhali where the doctors declared him dead,” Rahman said.

The Supreme Court sentenced Mollah to death, toughening the sentence originally handed down by the country’s war crimes tribunal, and rejecting an appeal for acquital by his defense lawyers.

In the city of Rajshahi yesterday, police fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse scores of rock-throwing Jamaat protesters, police inspector Ziaur Rahman said.

Protesters also threw small, home-made bombs at police in the capital Dhaka and in the southwestern city of Khulna during small street rallies, private television Channel 24 reported.

Police said security was tight in the capital, with thousands of police and paramilitary border guards patrolling the streets. Schools, shops and many offices were closed on the first day of the 48-hour strike. Inter-district motorways were empty and bus services have been suspended.

Mollah’s sentence drew strong criticism from global rights groups, with the International Commission of Jurists calling it “incompatible with international principles of fair trial.”

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