Jama’at leader sentenced to hang for war crimes

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DHAKA: Bangladesh’s controversial war crimes court probing the nation’s bloody independence war sentenced a top Islamic televangelist to death on Monday in its first conviction.

Maolana Abul Kalam Azad, who has been on the run for the last year, was “sentenced to death by hanging” for genocide and murder committed during the 1971 liberation war, judge Obaidul Hasan announced.

The International Crimes Tribunal (ICT), which is a domestic tribunal with no international oversight, was created by the government in 2010 and has been tainted by allegations that it is politically motivated.

“It’s a historic day for the country. It’s victory for the humanity. Bangladeshi people have been waiting for this day. They can now heave a sigh of relief since 1971,” said Attorney General Mahbubey Alam.

Azad, 63, who for years presented a widely watched show on Islam on private and state-run television channels, is a former leading light of Bangladesh’s largest opposition Islamic party Jamaat-e-Islami.

In total, eleven senior opposition figures – nine from Jamaat and two from the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) – stand accused of war crimes.

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