WASHINGTON — In another step in the right direction, the Bangladeshi government’s war crimes tribunal convicted and sentenced an Islamist leader to life in prison yesterday.
Reuters reports that Ghulam Azam, 91, was the former head of the Jamaat-e-Islami party and was responsible for committing genocide and crimes against humanity during Bangladesh’s 1971 war of independence from Pakistan.
This was the fifth such conviction of war crimes committed by Islamist leaders and has led to widespread outbursts of violence between Islamist supporters and the country’s police forces. The violence and protests occur as elections come up next year.
Usually, the tribunal sentences the criminals to death, but Azam’s advanced age was taken into account. Instead, he received a 90-year jail term, which is just as condemning.
Three other Jamaat leaders were sentenced to death and one other to life in prison so far. Six others are still on trial. The war crimes tribunal is not endorsed by the United Nations and the Human Rights Watch group has criticized the procedures.
Reuters said that over 100 people have been killed as a result of the tribunal’s proceedings since this past January.