Bangladesh jails former JI chief over war crime charges
Dhaka (Reuters): A Bangladeshi tribunal sent on Wednesday Golam Azam, former chief of Jamaat-e-Islami party, to jail to await trial on charges of war crimes, his attorneys and court officials said.
The 90-year-old leader is facing trial for helping the Pakistani army during Bangladesh’s 1971 war of independence, when, according to government records, more than three million people were killed and thousands of women raped in what was then East Pakistan.
Jamaat, Bangladesh’s biggest Islamic political party, opposed Bangladesh’s independence from Pakistan and helped the Pakistani army in East Pakistan, now Bangladesh.
“Golam Azam is being taken to jail on order of the special tribunal,” his chief attorney Barrister Abdur Razzak told reporters.
Five other top Jamaat leaders including its current chief, Moulana Motiur Rahman Nizami, have been in jail for months on similar charges, which they deny.
The war crime tribunal on Monday asked Azam to appear before its court on Wednesday or face arrest. The tribunal turned down his bail petition on Wednesday and ordered him to be taken to jail.
Razzak said the denial of bail was a violation of Azam’s human rights. His next hearing will be on Feb 15.
The tribunal was set up last year and wants to wrap up investigations into all of the accused, as trying war criminals was an election pledge of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who returned to power in January 2009.
Jamaat and its close ally, the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, say the tribunal takes orders from the government. The government rejects that.