World Bulletin / News Desk
Bangladesh's parliament 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.
Some reports say defendants are already clear to be executed in 26 March 2013, despite repeated denials of govt, saying the trial has yet to conclude.
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 Abdul Quader Mollah, assistant Secretary General of the Jamaat-e-Islami party to life in prison in connection with Bangladesh's 1971 war of independence from Pakistan.
The amendment will "empower the tribunals to try and punish any organisations, including Jamaat-e-Islami, for commiting crimes during country's liberation war in 1971", Law Minister Shafique Ahmed said after the change was approved.
Lawyers said the amendment sets a timetable for the government to appeal against Mollah's sentence and secure a retrial. The previous law did not allow state prosecutors to call for a retrial except in the case of acquittals.
Adoption was quick -- less than a week after the amendment was approved by the cabinet in the overwhelmingly Muslim country of 150 million.
United Nations human rights experts said, Bangladesh war crimes trials are not being held in a due process, voicing concern at recent sentences for Islamic leaders.
Ban on opposition party?
Opposition benches were empty as the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (the BNP) of former premier Begum Khaleda Zia and its allies have been boycotting sessions almost since her arch rival, Sheikh Hasina, leader of the Awami League, took office in 2009.
The BNP accuses the prime minister of using the war crimes tribunal as a weapon against its opponents. Hasina denies the allegation.
In its first verdict last month, the tribunal sentenced a former Jamaat leader, Abul Kamal Azad, also an Islamic preacher, to death in absentia for similar offences.
Eight other Jamaat leaders, including its current and former chiefs, are being tried by the war crimes court that Hasina set up in 2010 to investigate abuses during the 1971 conflict.
The government is facing growing pressure from the protesters to ban Jamaat-e-Islami, the country's largest Islamist party, and groups linked to it.
Law minister Shafique Ahmed told reporters the government was considering such a ban.
Jamaat activists have called a country-wide strike for Monday.
Bangladesh became part of Pakistan at the end of British occupation in 1947 but it broke away from Pakistan in 1971 after a war between Bangladeshi nationalists, who were backed by India, and Pakistani forces. Some factions in Bangladesh opposed the break with Pakistan.Last Mod: 17 Şubat 2013, 15:21