Convicted Bangladeshi war crimes mastermind dies

Dhaka: Convicted war criminal Ghulam Azam, one of the most high profile leaders of Bangladesh's largest Islamist party, has died.

He died around 10.10 p.m. local time Thursday, Xinhua quoted Abdul Mazid Bhuiyan, director of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University here where the leader was undergoing treatment, as saying.

Bhuiyan said the process of handing over his body to his family will be completed Friday night.

It was not known immediately when and where he will be buried.

It was also not clear whether his family will be allowed to arrange a funeral ceremony in capital city Dhaka where Azam's Bangladesh's Jamaat-e-Islami party leaders and activists have not been reportedly allowed since long for carrying out anti-government political activities.

Azam was being kept at a prison cell of the hospital since Jan 11, 2012, the day he was arrested.

He was sentenced to 90 years in prison for war crimes, including mass killings, in July last year. The International Crimes Tribunal (ICT)-1 pronounced the verdict in capital Dhaka July 15, 2013, saying the party's former chief will "die behind bars".

Azam, 92, considered the spiritual leader of Jamaat, is alleged to have created and led pro-Pakistan militias which carried out numerous murders and rapes during the nine-month 1971 war of independence against Pakistan.

Azam has always denied the charges and said they were politically motivated.

After returning to power in January 2009, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, daughter of Bangladesh's independence hero Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, established the first tribunal in March 2010, almost 40 years after the 1971 fight for independence from Pakistan to castigate those committed crimes against humanity during the nine- month war.

Apart from Jamaat high-ups, two leaders of main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) are also facing trials. Both BNP and Jamaat have already dismissed the court as a government " show trial" and said it is a domestic set-up without the oversight or involvement of the United Nations.


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