An Islamic leader's death sentence has triggered protests throughout Bangladesh: At least 44 people, including six police officers, have been killed in what some are calling the country's biggest political outcry in decades, the New York Times reports. Jamaat-e-Islami party VP Delwar Hossain Sayedee was found guilty of crimes committed four decades ago: mass killings, rapes, looting, and forced religious conversions during the 1971 war of independence from Pakistan, Reuters reports. The war saw as many as 3 million killed and thousands raped.
But the sentence has divided protesters, with hundreds of thousands applauding the move while others condemn it. Jamaat supporters say the war crimes tribunal is a corrupt effort designed to weaken the PM's political rivals; groups like Human Rights Watch have knocked it for deviating from international standards. "This is a perverse judgment. It is inconceivable that a court of law awarded him a conviction," says the 73-year-old's lawyer. The latest unrest follows gatherings of up to 200,000 protesters following another Jamaat figure's life sentence, by way of the tribunal, last month; demonstrators had wanted a death sentence.