Bangladesh Islamic party MP ordered jailed

A Bangladesh war crimes court Sunday ordered the jailing of two Islamists including a member of parliament for three months for contempt of court, a decision likely to fuel tension between the secular government and religious parties.

Jamaat-e-Islami party lawmaker Hamidur Rahman Azad and its acting deputy chief Rafiqul Islam Khan were sentenced in absentia by the country's controversial International Crimes Tribunal, which is trying Islamists and others for war crimes.

"The tribunal has found them guilty of defaming the court, obstructing justice and contempt of court. Each of them were sentenced to three months in jail," state prosecutor Syed Haider Ali told AFP.

Jamaat has called for a nationwide strike on Monday in response, media reports said.

The court, which was set up without any United Nations oversight, has already ruled against four Islamists including Jamaat's vice-president and its third-ranked leader. Both were sentenced to death for crimes committed during the 1971 war of independence against Pakistan.

Deadly protests over the trials have gripped the impoverished Muslim-majority country since January, when the court started handing out verdicts.

More than 150 people have died during the clashes, some of the deadliest political violence Bangladesh has seen.

Two officials from the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), the main opposition group, and eight other Jamaat officials including its leader are still on trial. A verdict against Ghulam Azam, the wartime head of Jamaat, is expected later this month.

The BNP and its Islamist allies including Jamaat have described the tribunal as a tool for the ruling Awami League party to target opponents.

Human Rights Watch has said the tribunal's procedures fall short of international standards.

The government says the trials are needed to heal the wounds of the 1971 war in which it says three million people were killed and 200,000 women raped.

Independent estimates put the death toll at between 300,000 and 500,000.