DHAKA (AFP) – Bangladesh’s war crimes court Thursday sentenced a fugitive mayor to death for mass murder and rape during the 1971 independence struggle against Pakistan, the latest opposition figure to face the gallows.
Zahid Hossain Khokon, a main opposition party official, was found guilty of 10 charges including forcibly converting minority Hindus to Islam during the nine-month war.
“He got the death sentence for six charges and 40 years’ jail for four other charges,” prosecutor Mukhlesur Rahman told reporters after the verdict was handed down.
Khokon, mayor of Nagarkanda town, disappeared after he was charged last year, and the court “ordered the national police chief and the district police chief to find and arrest him,” he said.
But Rahman said he believed the 70-year-old had fled to Sweden where he was hiding out with relatives.
Khokon is the second official from the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) to be handed the death penalty for war crimes.
The centre-right party has called the court’s trials politically motivated, aimed at eliminating opposition leaders rather than rendering justice.