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Bangladesh Islamist party leader files appeal against death penalty

DHAKA, Nov. 30 (Xinhua) -- Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami party leader Mir Quasem Ali has challenged the death penalty awarded to him by a war crimes tribunal.

The defence lawyer on Sunday filed an appeal against the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT-2) verdict against Jamaat central executive committee member Mir Quasem Ali, who is now behind the bar.

Advocate Joynul Abedin Tuhin, on behalf of Ali, filed the appeal in the Supreme Court.

On Nov. 2 this year, the ICT-2 handed down capital punishment to Jamaat leader for war crimes which include the killings of intellectuals.

Eight of the 14 charges levelled against the accused the 62- year-old top finance of Jamaat had been proven while two were partially proven, ICT-2 announced while delivering the verdict.

Ali was indicted in 2012 with 14 charges of crimes against humanity, including looting, mass killings, arson, rape and forcefully converting people into Muslims during the war.

The indictment order, in a brief profile of the accused, said Ali was a key organizer of the Al-Badr, an auxiliary force of then Pakistani army which planned and executed the killing of Bangalee intellectuals at the end of the Liberation War in 1971.

Ali was allegedly the chief of Al-Badr, an auxiliary force of Pakistani army, in Chittagong, some 242 southeast of capital Dhaka.

In June last year he was arrested from the offices of his newspaper Naya Diganta, a leading Bengali daily, shortly after the tribunal issued a warrant for his arrest.

In his petition filed on Sunday with the Supreme Court, Ali claimed himself innocent and sought acquittal on all the eight charges for which was given capital punishment.

After filing the appeal, Tuhin, a counsel for Ali, said the Supreme Court will now fix a date for hearing the appeal.

Five top Jamaat leaders have already been punished for their 1971 crimes and Ali is among three other top leaders now being tried in war crimes tribunals Prime Minister Sheikh Hasian's Bangladesh Awami League-led government formed in 2010 to bring the perpetrators of 1971 to book.

Apart from Jamaat high-ups, a few leaders of ex-Prime Minister Khaleda Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) are also facing trials.

Both BNP and Jamaat have dismissed the court as a government " show trial" and said it is a domestic set-up without the oversight or involvement of the United Nations.

Muslim-majority Bangladesh was called East Pakistan until 1971. The government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said about 3 million people were killed in the war although independent researchers think that between 300,000 and 500,000 died.

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