War crime charges pressed against JI leader Azam
Dhaka: Bangladesh government on MONday pressed
war crime charges against fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami (JI)
leader Ghulam Azam at the International Crimes Tribunal,
calling him a "key collaborator" of the then Pakistani regime
during the 1971 Liberation War.
"We brought 52 charges against Ghulam Azam at the Tribunal
seeking him to be tried as an accused of `crimes against
humanity` during the Liberation War," prosecution lawyer Syed
Rezaur Rahman said, ahead of the 40th anniversary of
Bangladesh`s victory in the freedom struggle on December 16.
He said the three-judge International Crimes Tribunal
(ICT) headed by Justice Niazamul Haq asked the prosecution to
bring the charges against the former JI chief through the
registrar of the tribunal for its consideration.
Rahman said the prosecution also requested the ICT to
consider ordering Azam`s arrest when it looks into the charges
of his involvement in the Pakistani troops` notorious
`Operation Searchlight` of March 25, 1971 when they suddenly
cracked down on unarmed people.
Azam, a provincial minister under the then Pakistani
regime in 1971, was stripped off his nationality as he fled
the country at the fag end of the Liberation War but got it
back after a legal battle following his return home in 1976.
In an interview to a private television channel, Azam,
now in his early 80s, denied the charges and said "I did not
do anything for which I will have to seek apology from the
"What I did, I had done for the benefit of the people, to
save people," he told the Baishakhi TV yesterday, adding that
he, however, was prepared for arrest to face the trial.
But the investigators earlier said they found clear
evidence that he was the key man under whose directives the
perpetrators of crimes against humanity acted in 1971.
The development at ICT came a day after the prosecution
formally accused three top JI leaders of war crimes.
The ICT also set December 18 for hearing of charges
against current JI chief Motiur Rahman Nizami, Secretary
General Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed and Assistant Secretary
General Muhammad Quamruzzaman.
It granted prosecution one more week to submit charges
against another Assistant Secretary General of the party Abdul
The right wing JI, which is a key ally of main opposition
BNP of ex-prime minister Khaleda Zia, had opposed the
country`s independence siding with the then Pakistani regime.
Five of the seven war crime suspects detained so far to
face the trial belonged to Jamaat-e-Islami, while the rest two
are leaders of BNP.
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