Motiur Rahman Nizami
Bangladesh executes Jamaat-e-Islami chief Motiur Rahman for war crimes in 1971 Picturde: Moulana Motiur Rahman Nizami, chief of the Jamaat-e-Islami waves to his supporters during a rally in Dhaka Feb. 11, 2006.Reuters

Bangladesh's apex court on Wednesday upheld the death sentence of Jamaat-e-Islam's leader Motiur Rahman Nizami. Nizami, a former minister, had been found guilty of murder, rape and masterminding the murders of top intellectuals during the 1971 Liberation War of Bangladesh.

Nizami, the leader of the largest Islamist party in Bangladesh, had been sentenced by the International Crimes Tribunal — a special court set up by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's government — in 2014.

"The court upheld the death sentence in three out of four charges. We're very happy. Most importantly, the death penalty was upheld for the killings of the intellectuals," prosecutor Tureen Afroz told AFP.

Nizami, who was a minister from 2001 to 2006, is said to be an "internationally acclaimed Islamic scholar" by Jamaat in a statement on its website, reports AFP.

Nizami could file for a review petition or appeal for pardon from the president, failing which he will be executed. The Supreme Court's ruling paves the way for his execution in the coming months.

So far, three Islamist and four Opposition leaders have been executed in the country. The appeals of the four Opposition leaders had been swiftly dismissed by the Supreme Court.

The Jamaat-e-Islami, which dismissed the allegations as false, has called for a nationwide strike on 7 January.

Nizami, prosecutors said, was a leader of the student wing of Islamic group Jamaat during the 1971 war, and the group had transformed into the Al-Badr pro-Pakistani militia, which was responsible for killing intellectuals ruthlessly.

The Bangladesh government estimates that 3 million people died during the Liberation War, However, independent researchers say the numbers were much lower than that, reported AFP.

Secular protestors who have been demanding justice for the ruthless crimes during Bangladesh's struggle for independence from Pakistan launched impromptu celebrations in Dhaka after the Supreme Court's judgment today.