Jul 16, 2013

    90 years' jail for ex-Bangladesh party chief

    A SPECIAL Bangladeshi court yesterday sentenced an elderly top Islamist to 90 years in prison for masterminding atrocities during the 1971 war of independence against Pakistan.

    Ghulam Azam was found guilty of all five charges of planning, conspiracy, incitement, complicity, and murder and torture during the war.

    However, 90-year-old Azam - the wartime head of the country's largest Islamic party, Jamaat-e-Islami, and now its spiritual leader - was spared the death penalty because of his age and health, an official said.

    Street violence erupted across Bangladesh ahead of the judgment, handed down by the International Crimes Tribunal.

    Prosecutors had sought the death penalty for Azam, describing him as a "lighthouse" who guided all war criminals, and the "architect" of the militias which committed many of the 1971 atrocities.

    Azam's lawyer, Mr Tajul Islam, said the charges were based on newspaper reports of speeches the leader gave during the war.

    "The prosecution has completely failed to prove any of the charges," he said before the verdict.