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Former Jamaat-e-Islami chief indicted for crimes in 1971 war

May 13, 2012 19:48 IST

A special Bangladeshi tribunal on Sunday indicted an 89-year-old former chief of  fundamentalist outfit  Jamaat-e-Islami on 61 charges for committing crimes against humanity during the 1971 Liberation War, months after he was arrested.

"The International Crimes Tribunal indicted Professor Ghulam Azam for five types of crimes he committed during the 1971 Liberation War," said prosecuting lawyer Syed Rezaur Rahman.

"The charges have been framed against you on the basis of the chargesheet," chairman of the three-judge panel of International Crimes Tribunal Justice Mohammad Nizamul Huq told Azam after the fundamentalist leader was brought to the dock from the prison on a wheelchair under heavy security.

The tribunal read out the 61 charges against Azam under five categories including conspiracy, planning, incitement, complicity and murder during the nine-month war.

The panel set June 5 as the date for starting the trial against Azam, who had pleaded not guilty after the charges were read out to him.

Azam was the former chief of Jamaat-e-Islami in the then East Pakistan wing of the fundamentalist party and provincial minister under the Pakistani junta in 1971.

The prosecution earlier described him as the "key collaborator" of the then Pakistani junta, alleging he masterminded the alleged atrocities including mass murders of Bengalis during the Liberation War.

According to the Bangladeshi authorities, up to three lakh people were killed in the bloody war.

Azam rejected the charges, calling them "politically motivated" when the tribunal asked him if he was "guilty or not".

"I don't think of myself as guilty," said Azam, who has been kept at the prison cell of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University since his arrest on January 11, 2012.

Azam's party opposed Bangladesh's 1971 independence, with many of its activists joining the auxiliary forces of the Pakistani troops.

Anisur Rahman In Dhaka
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