AlJazeera.com, February 18, 2013
"Bangladesh's parliament, meeting the demands of protesters, has amended a law allowing the state to appeal any verdict in war crimes trials it deems inadequate and out of step with public opinion. The amendment will 'empower the tribunals to try and punish any organisations, including Jamaat-e-Islami, for committing crimes during country's liberation war in 1971', Shafique Ahmed, the law minister, said on Sunday amid an opposition boycott. Tens of thousands of demonstrators, jamming central Shahbag Square in the capital, Dhaka, for the 13th day, burst into cheers as the assembly approved the changes. The protesters have been demanding death penalty for war crimes after a tribunal this month sentenced a prominent Jamaat-e-Islami leader to life in prison in connection with Bangladesh's 1971 war of independence from Pakistan. Protests erupted after Abdul Quader Mollah, assistant secretary general of the Jamaat party, the country's largest Islamic party, was sentenced to life for murder, rape and torture. Demonstrators thronged the capital demanding capital punishment to Mollah. However, supporters of Jamaat have held rallies to question the war tribunal's neutrality. They have described the tribunal as politically motivated and demanded that the Jamaat leaders be tried under the auspices of the UN. 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. [...]"