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Central & South Asia

Bangladesh opposition leader to face charges

Jamaat-e-Islami assistant secretary-general Azharul Islam faces several charges, including genocide, torture and rape.

Last Modified: 18 Jul 2013 15:37
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Tensions have run high on both sides over the war crimes tribunal cases [Reuters]

Bangladeshi prosecutors have filed formal charges against another senior opposition party leader of crimes against humanity committed during the 1971 war of independence.

The prosecutors said on Thursday that they had brought six charges against ATM Azharul Islam, the assistant secretary-general of Jamaat-e-Islami, the country's largest Islamic party: murder, genocide, abduction, torture, rape, looting, and arson.

Prosecutors AKM Saiful Islam and Nurjahan Begum Mukta told a news conference that the charges against Azharul had been submitted to the registrar at Bangladesh's International Crimes Tribunal (ICT), which is not endorsed by the United Nations and has been criticised by human rights groups.

Al Jazeera's Tanvir Chowdhury, reporting from Dhaka, said that Azharul Islam had been accused of committing crimes against humanity during the War of Liberation in 1971, when he was the district unit president of Jamaat-e-Islami's student wing, Islami Chhatra Sangha, now Islami Chhatra Shibir.

"An ICT investigation team visited the spots of massacre in Rangpur Sadar and Badarganj Upazila on Sunday and collected evidence," Chowdhury said.

The charges came one day after the ICT sentenced Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed, Jamaat's secretary-general, to death for war crimes committed during the 1971 uprising.

Mojaheed was found guilty on Wednesday in the capital, Dhaka, of genocide, conspiracy in killing intellectuals, torture and abduction during the war to break away from Pakistan.

Security forces clashes

Spotlight
Extensive coverage of war crimes trials and calls for blasphemy laws that have divided the nation.

Supporters of Mojaheed, the second-highest ranked official of Jamaat, clashed with security forces in different parts of Bangladesh, after he was found guilty of five of the seven charges.

Jamaat supporters were three days into a nationwide strike when Mojaheed was sentenced to hang.

The strike was called over the 90-year sentence given to Ghulam Azam, the 90-year-old spiritual leader of the party.

Shops and businesses were closed and main roads were largely deserted of cars in the capital Dhaka.

There were no reports of deaths on Thursday or Wednesday, but nine people were killed on Monday and Tuesday, police and witnesses said.

Scores of Jamaat activists took to the streets in the western city of Rajshahi to protest against Mojaheed's verdict.

Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh's prime minister set up the tribunal in 2010 to investigate abuses during the conflict and it delivered its first verdict in January.

The prime minister's opponents said that she was using the tribunal against the two biggest opposition parties, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and the Jamaat-e-Islami.

419

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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