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Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami

The death sentence of Bangladeshi Islamist leader Abdul Kader Mullah has been upheld by the Supreme Court.

The judge dismissed his appeal, saying it paves the way for his execution.

Abdul Kader Mullah had been scheduled to be executed on Tuesday, before gaining a reprieve. No new date has been set.

He was convicted in February of crimes against humanity during the country’s 1971 war of independence from Pakistan. The senior leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami party denies the charges.

Jamaat-e-Islami says that the trial is politically motivated.

“There is now no legal bar to execute him,” Attorney-General Mahbubey Alam told AFP news agency in the court, amid applause by pro-government lawyers.

Mahbubey Alam said that Mullah had exhausted all avenues of appeal. But Abdul Kader Mullah’s lawyers have disputed his conclusions. His final hope would rest with a presidential pardon.

Abdul Kader Mullah was convicted of crimes against humanity during the country's 1971 war of independence from Pakistan

Abdul Kader Mullah was convicted of crimes against humanity during the country’s 1971 war of independence from Pakistan

Abdul Kader Mullah’s trial earlier this year sparked protests from Jamaat supporters. They accuse the government of pursuing a political vendetta which has resulted in the imprisonment of several of the party’s senior leaders.

Security was stepped up in Dhaka in advance of Thursday’s ruling.

Abdul Kader Mullah is one of five Islamist leaders condemned to death by Bangladesh’s International Crimes Tribunal (ICT), set up in 2010 to investigate atrocities committed during the 1971 conflict, in which some estimates say that as many as three million people died.

So far none of those convicted has been executed.

Abdul Kader Mullah – who is assistant secretary-general of Jamaat -was initially sentenced to life imprisonment for killing unarmed civilians and intellectuals in the Mirpur suburb of the capital Dhaka.

Thousands of protesters took to the streets demanding the death penalty, a move that prompted parliament to amend a law allowing the state to appeal against any verdict reached by the war crimes tribunal.

The Supreme Court then passed a death sentence.

Bangladesh set up the special court to deal with those accused of collaborating with Pakistani forces who attempted to stop East Pakistan, as Bangladesh was then, from becoming an independent country.

However, human rights groups have said the tribunal falls short of international standards and that he should have another opportunity to appeal.

Jamaat is barred from contesting elections scheduled for January 5, 2014, but plays a key role in the opposition movement led by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).