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January 23, 2022

Bangladesh Islamist Ghulam Azam found guilty of war crimes

A war crimes court has found Islamist Ghulam Azam guilty of five charges relating to Bangladesh’s 1971 war of independence with Pakistan, the BBC reports. Ghulam Azam was sentenced to 90 years in jail for his involvement in mass killings and rape during the war.
Supporters of Bangladesh’s main Islamist Jamaat-e-Islami party, which he led from 1969 until 2000, clashed with police ahead of the verdict. It is the fifth sentence passed against current and former party leaders. The court found Mr Azam, 90, guilty of five charges including conspiracy, incitement, planning, abetting and failing to prevent murder. He faced more than 60 counts of crimes against humanity for his role in setting up militia groups which carried out atrocities during the war. Mr Azam has denied the charges, which his supporters say were politically motivated. The prosecution had been seeking the death penalty.
But the three-judge panel said that while Mr Azam deserved capital punishment, he received a prison term because of his advanced age. The mood in Bangladesh is tense, with police on all major streets of the capital and security beefed up around the country, the BBC’s Mahfuz Sadique in Dhaka says.
Before the verdict was announce, police reportedly fired rubber bullets to disperse Jamaat-e-Islam supporters protesting in Dhaka and several other cities on Monday. Journalists were among a number of people hurt in the violence in the Dhalpur district of Dhaka, police say. On the eve of the verdict there were sporadic clashes in different parts of the capital with reports of some injuries, he adds.
Previous verdicts for former Jamaat leaders have led to deadly protests involving party supporters.
More than 100 people have been killed since January in political violence sparked by verdicts handed down by the International Crimes Tribunal. Pro-government groups have also taken to the streets demanding death sentences for those being tried, accusing the tribunal of being too lenient.

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