Bangladesh Capital on Alert Ahead of War Crimes Verdict

Fears of islamist violence is keeping the police authorities in the country on their toes.

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The verdict could cause major disruption in Dhaka for which the cops say they are prepared. (Photo: AP)

The Bangladesh capital was on high alert on Wednesday ahead of a Supreme Court verdict on the nation’s top Islamist leader that could clear the way for his execution for war crimes within days.

Jamaat-e-Islami party leader Motiur Rahman Nizami, 73, will likely face the gallows in less than a week if the court dismisses his final appeal tomorrow over crimes committed during the country’s independence war.

Police said they had stepped up security in Dhaka ahead of the verdict because of fears of Islamist violence, although they added there were no specific threats from any group.

We’ve enhanced security in the capital. Officers have been kept on alert
Maruf Hossain Sorder, Spokesman, Dhaka Metropolitan Police

Nizami was originally convicted of murder, rape and orchestrating the killing of top intellectuals as a militia leader during Bangladesh’s 1971 war of independence against Pakistan.

The Supreme Court upheld the verdict in January this year, but Nizami’s lawyers filed a final appeal. Previous convictions of Jamaat officials triggered the country’s deadliest violence in decades, with around 500 people killed, mainly in clashes between Islamists and police.

There will be extra security at the Supreme Court and at important sites in the city
Shiblee Noman, Assistant Commissioner of Police

The judgement comes as the Muslim-majority nation reels from a string of killings of secular and liberal activists and religious minorities by suspected Islamist militants.

In the last two weeks alone, two gay rights activists, a liberal professor and a Hindu tailor have been hacked to death.

Nizami, Jamaat’s leader since 2000 and a former government minister, could still avoid the gallows if he is granted clemency by the president.

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