Bangladesh’s highest court on Tuesday rejected a final appeal by an Islamic party's leader against the death sentence he had been handed for crimes committed during the country’s 1971 war of liberation from Pakistan, officials said

A five-member panel of Supreme Court judges, headed by Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha, upheld the death sentence for Mir Quasem Ali, 64, a leader of Bangladesh's Jamaat-e-Islami party, prosecution lawyer Tureen Afroz said.   

Ali received the death sentence for crimes including the abduction, killing and dumping bodies of several people in a river in a south-eastern district of Bangladesh.

He was also convicted of several other crimes against humanity that took place during the 1971 conflict.

He was sentenced to death in November 2014 by a special war crimes tribunal for crimes against humanity committed during the nine-month war.

An appeals court had earlier upheld his death penalty before Ali launched an appeal against that decision.

His only remaining option for clemency is to seek a presidential pardon, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam said. 

Ali, who is also a business tycoon in Bangladesh, was one of the founders of the al-Badr force commissioned by the Pakistani military to carry out attacks on civilians during the war.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina established the special war crimes tribunal in 2010 to prosecute local agents of the Pakistani army who were responsible for atrocities against unarmed civilians.  

Bangladesh estimates nearly 3 million people died and approximately 200,000 women were raped during the nine-month war, although independent researchers say the death toll was considerably lower.

An earlier initiative to prosecute the war crimes was called off after the assassination of Bangladesh’s founding president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who was Sheikh Hasina's father, in 1975.  

The Jamaat-e-Islami party, which opposed the creation of Bangladesh, has rejected the trials as politically motivated.

Motiur Rahman Nizami, chief of Jamaat-e-Islami party, Ali Ahsan Mumannad Mujahid, Kamaruzzaman, Abdul Kader Mollah of the same party and Bangladesh Nationalist Party leader Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury have already been executed for war crimes.

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