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Another “spiritual leader” convicted of atrocities

Ghulam Azam has been sentenced for crimes against humanity in a Dhaka court today.

Azam led Jamaat-e-Islami in then-east Pakistan in 1971 when Bangladesh became independent through a bloody war. He is among several Jamaat-e-Islami leaders convicted by a tribunal formed in 2010 by the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to try those accused of collaborating with the Pakistani army in the war.

Bangladesh says the Pakistani army killed 3 million people and raped 200,000 women during the nine-month war, and some 10 million people took shelter across the border in India.

Azam led the party until 2000 and is still considered to be its spiritual leader. Jamaat-e-Islami claims his trial and others were politically motivated, which authorities deny.

The tribunal said Azam was guilty of all 61 charges under five categories: conspiracy, incitement, planning, abetment and failure to prevent killing.

He and his party were accused of forming citizens’ brigades to commit genocide and other serious crimes against the pro-independence fighters during the war.

Azam had openly campaigned against the creation of Bangladesh and toured the Middle East to get support in favour of Pakistan. He routinely met with Pakistan authorities during the war. A mouthpiece of the party routinely published statements by Azam and his associates calling for crushing the fighters who fought against the Pakistani military in 1971.

The prosecution in the trial said Azam must take “command responsibility” for months of atrocities perpetrated by his supporters.

The religion of peace.

 

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