Clashes in Dhaka After Court Hands Down Death Sentence to Islamist Leader

City in lockdown as supporters of Abdul Quader Molla erect barricades

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MUNIR UZ ZAMAN / AFP / Getty Images

Bangladeshi police search a pedestrian in front of the high court in Dhaka on Sept. 17, 2013

Protests have erupted in Dhaka in the wake of the death sentence imposed on Abdul Quader Molla — a top leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami, Bangladesh’s main Islamist party — who was found guilty of rape and mass murder during the 1971 war of independence with Pakistan.

After the court verdict on Wednesday, supporters of Molla threw stones at the police, barricaded roads and exploded crude bombs on the streets on the Bangladeshi capital. One man was killed when he was struck by a stone.

Jamaat-e-Islami called for a two-day strike on Tuesday, calling Molla’s conviction a “government conspiracy to kill our leaders.” Schools and colleges remained closed in Dhaka on Wednesday.

A war crimes tribunal in February had originally handed down life imprisonment to Molla, dubbed the “Butcher of Mirpur” for his wartime atrocities. That sentence, seen by many Bangladeshis as too lenient, led to widespread protests and a prosecution appeal.

Bangladesh is bracing itself for more protests tomorrow. Already, over 100 people have died in war-crime-related demonstrations so far this year.