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CIMA Gallary

Cleric gets death for war crimes
- Charges proved beyond doubt: Court

Dhaka, Jan. 21 (PTI) A fugitive Islamic cleric formerly linked to the fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami party was today sentenced to death by a special Bangladesh court for killing six people and raping several women during the 1971 Liberation War.

The conviction of Abul Kalam Azad, 63, was the first verdict handed down by the three-member International Crimes Tribunal-2 trying people accused of committing crimes during the war.

“Abul Kalam Azad (alias Bacchu Razakar) will be hanged by neck till his death,” the tribunal’s chairman, Justice Obaidul Hassan, said at a crowed courtroom in downtown Dhaka after the trial in absentia.

Azad, a former Jamaat-e-Islami member, fled the country in April last year as he was charged with “crimes against humanity” during Bangladesh’s India-backed Liberation War. He had collaborated Pakistani troops in 1971. Media reports, quoting police sources, said Azad is believed to be hiding in Pakistan.

The court said Azad, who also heads an Islamic charity, was awarded capital punishment as seven of the eight charges of murder, mass killing, abduction, rape and torture against him were “proved beyond doubt”.

The court said it has been proved from witnesses’ testimonies that the accused directly carried out the crimes as an armed member of the “Razakar” force, an auxiliary unit comprising Bengali- speaking collaborators of the Pakistani army in 1971.

“The accused cannot be considered merely an absentee accused. He is an absconded accused. Evading trial for the offences of which he has been charged with signifies his culpability too.”

Prosecutors earlier said Azad himself had shot dead six Hindus and raped several women which was proved during the trial.

Lawyers said under the International Crimes Tribunal Act, Azad had a chance to get his verdict reviewed by the appellate division of the Supreme Court if he surrenders or is arrested in the next 30 days, on expiry of which it would depend on the apex court to decide if his trial would be reviewed.

 
 
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