DHAKA – Bangladesh’s Cabinet approved on Monday changes to war crime laws to ensure opposition leaders on trial for alleged atrocities during the nation’s 1971 independence war can be swiftly executed if convicted.
The move came amid huge demonstrations by hundreds of thousands of people in Dhaka for the past seven days calling for quick executions of the 10 alleged war criminals currently being tried on such charges as genocide and rape.
Two others have already been convicted.
The demonstrations began after the war crimes tribunal last week handed a life sentence to a leader of the largest Islamic party — a sentence critics condemned as too lenient.
Cabinet Secretary Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan said the Cabinet, led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, approved the changes, allowing the state and victims to contest the life term for Abdul Quader Mollah of the Jamaat-e-Islami party.
The Cabinet also set a 60-day limit for the Supreme Court’s Appellate Division to dispose of appeals, Bhuiyan said, meaning someone getting a maximum death sentence can be hanged this year.