Bangladesh Islamist Spiritual Leader Found Guilty Of War Crimes
BDNEWS24 (Bangladesh), BBC
DHAKA - Ghulam Azam, spiritual chief of Bangladesh's main Islamist party, was sentenced Monday to 90 years in jail for crimes against humanity during the country’s Liberation War in 1971.
A war crimes tribunal in the capital of Dhaka found the 91-year-old former Jamaat-e-Islam leader guilty of five charges: murder and torture of unarmed people, conspiracy, planning, incitement and complicity to commit genocide and crimes against humanity.
All these crimes were committed during the nine-month war in 1971 that saw Bangladesh attempt to secede from Pakistan. During the trial, juge Anwarul Haque said “the massive genocide in 1971 was the worst after the Second World War”.
Earlier this year, five similar verdicts against Jamaat members were handed down by criminal courts and several other cases against war crimes suspects are currently underway. But Monday's verdict was the most closely watch as Mr Azam led Jamaat from 1969 to 2000 and is still considered a spiritual leader by many.
The conviction was greeted with ‘rejection’ and angry shouts outside the courthouse, Bdnews24 reports. Jamaat then called for general strike and its supporters clashed with the police through the day. “Police reportedly fired rubber bullets to disperse Jamaat-e-Islam supporters”, BBC reports.
Previous verdicts against Jamaat members have led to violent demonstration across the country that have caused the death of more than 100 people since January.