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90-Year-Old Gets 90 Years for War Crimes

Ghulam Azam fought against Bangladesh independence in 1971
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 15, 2013 8:45 AM CDT

(Newser) – An Islamist leader in Bangladesh during its bloody 1971 fight for independence from Pakistan has been found guilty of war crimes. The 90-year-old Ghulam Azam, former head of top Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami, has been sentenced to a jail term of 90 years, though International Crimes Tribunal judges said he deserved the death penalty; they gave him the prison sentence instead because of his age. The tribunal has already sparked protests resulting in at least three deaths; some say he should have been executed, while others slammed what they called a politically driven trial, al Jazeera reports.

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"Some kind of justice is done, but we are not happy," says a junior attorney general. Azam, who led Jamaat from 1969 to 2000, faced 61 charges and was found guilty of each one, ranging from incitement to failure to prevent killing. He opposed Bangladeshi independence, the BBC reports, because he believed it would divide Muslims; he was called the "mastermind" in the mass killing of intellectuals near the war's end. Bangladesh says the Pakistani army he assisted killed 3 million people and raped 200,000 women during the nine-month war, reports AP. (Read more Ghulam Azam stories.)

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