A special tribunal of three judges in Bangladesh sentenced the 91-year-old former chief of an Islamic party to 90 years in jail for crimes against humanity during the country's 1971 independence war. People on both sides of the issue were angered by the verdict because some felt that the decision was politically motivated while others wanted Ghulam Azam to be executed. The panel’s official ruling was that Azam, the former leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, did deserve capital punishment but he was given prison time because of his age and poor health.
Both the defense and prosecution have said they will appeal the ruling. The government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has convicted several other Jamaat-e-Islami leaders of collaborating with the Pakistani army during the war. According to Bangladesh, the Pakistani army killed three million people and raped 200,000 women during the nine-month war.
The tribunal said Azam was guilty of all 61 charges under five categories: conspiracy, incitement, planning, abetment and failure to prevent killing.
The verdict has sparked violence in certain parts of the country and at least three Jamaat-e-Islami activists have been killed, The Province reported.
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Despite the Azam’s sentence, some felt that it just wasn’t enough.
"Our wait for last 42 years has gone in vain. It's extremely frustrating," said Shyamoli Nasrin Chowdhury, the widow of a physician who was killed in 1971. "This verdict has just increased our pain."