Televangelist sentenced to death for Bangladesh war crimes

DHAKA (AFP) - Bangladesh's controversial war crimes court on Monday sentenced a top Islamic televangelist to death by hanging for genocide and other atrocities during the country's 1971 liberation struggle against Pakistan.

Maolana Abul Kalam Azad, who has been on the run for about a year, is the first person to be convicted by the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) created by the country's government to try suspected war criminals.

Azad was found guilty of seven out of eight charges including genocide, murder and rape, judge Obaidul Hasan told a crowded court amid huge security.

"It's a historic day for the country. It's victory for humanity.

Bangladeshi people can now heave a sigh of relief since 1971," attorney general Mahbubey Alam told reporters outside court.

The ICT, which is a domestic tribunal with no international oversight, has been tainted by allegations of political influence after the entire leadership of an opposition Islamic party were put on trial.