New York, Dec 9 (IANS) The death sentence against Abdul Qader Mollah, a leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami convicted of war crimes during Bangladesh's war of independence, should be stayed due to fair trial concerns, Human Rights Watch said Monday.
Mollah should be granted a right to appeal against the conviction and death sentence, it said.
"Human Rights Watch opposes the death penalty in all circumstances as an irreversible, degrading and cruel punishment," said the group's Brad Adams.
"It is particularly reprehensible in cases where laws were retroactively passed in order to enable the death penalty, and where the right to appeal against such a final judgment is not allowed."
The death sentence was handed down based on retroactively amended legislation, a move which violates international fair trial standards, it said.
On Feb 5, Mollah was sentenced to life in prison by the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT), a domestic court holding trials for the atrocities in Bangladesh's 1971 war of liberation from West Pakistan.
He was convicted on five of six counts, including murder and rape as crimes against humanity and war crimes. He was acquitted on one count of murder.
In response to large public protests demanding the death sentence for Mollah, the government passed amendments to the ICT law Feb 17, allowing the prosecution to appeal the sentence.
Until the Mollah case, the prosecution was only allowed to appeal if the accused was acquitted.