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Islamic cleric sentenced to death for Bangladesh war crimes

Published on Jan 21, 2013 5:47 PM
Members of Bangladesh Muktijoddha Sangsad, a welfare association for combatants who fought during the war for independence from Pakistan in 1971, shout slogans after a war crimes tribunal sentenced Abul Kalam Azad to death in Dhaka Jan 21, 2013. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

DHAKA (REUTERS) - Bangladesh's war crimes tribunal sentenced a popular Islamic televangelist to death on Monday, the first verdict by the controversial body set up to probe abuses during the country's bloody struggle for independence.

Abul Kalam Azad, a former member of Bangladesh's biggest Islamist party, was found guilty of torture, rape and genocide during the war for independence from Pakistan in 1971. Police believe he fled to Pakistan last April, and he was tried in absentia.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina set up the tribunal in 2010 to probe abuses during the conflict that claimed about 3 million lives and during which thousands of women were raped. Another 11 people are awaiting trial.

The tribunal has been criticised by rights groups for failing to adhere to standards of international law, while opposition parties say it is politically biased.

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