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Bangladesh panel sentences Azad to death

Jan. 21, 2013 at 7:16 AM

DHAKA, Bangladesh, Jan. 21 (UPI) -- A tribunal in Bangladesh sentenced fugitive Jamaat member Abul Kalam Azad to death Monday for crimes committed in the country's war for independence in 1971.

The International Crimes Tribunal-2, established to try people accused of committing crimes against humanity during Bangladesh's Liberation War, announced its verdict against Azad, tried in absentia, amid tight security, the (Bangladesh) Daily Star reported.

Azad, a former leader of Jamaat-e-Islami's student unit Islami Chhatra Sangha, also known as Bachchu Razakar, went into hiding before the panel issued an arrest warrant against him in April 2012. In November, Azad was indicted on eight charges of crimes against humanity, based on eight incidents in which at least a dozen unarmed people were killed and two women raped in Faridpur during the country's Liberation War, a nine-month conflict pitting East Pakistan and India against West Pakistan.

Tribunal officials said Azad's family didn't cooperate with his court-appointed attorney and didn't provide witnesses to testify on his behalf, the Daily Star reported.

The verdict is being seen as a victory for Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who made prosecuting war crimes a goal of her government, the BBC said.

Critics of the tribunal said the charges against Azad and others were politically motivated.

The court is not endorsed by the United Nations.

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