Bangla govt approaches SC, seeks death penalty for Jamaat boss

Dhaka: Bangladesh government on Monday sought death penalty for rightwing Jamaat-e-Islami's 91-year-old supremo Ghulam Azam as it challenged in the Supreme Court a 90-year jail term handed down to him by a special tribunal for war crimes.
"We have sought the capital punishment for him (Azam) in our appeal prayers with the Appellate Division (of the Supreme Court)," chief coordinator of prosecution lawyers M K Rahman told newsmen.
He said the state side also simultaneously sought ban on the politics of Jamaat-e-Islami, the party which Azam headed as the chief of its the then East Pakistan wing, as it was opposed to Bangladesh's independence.
The government appeal came a week after Azam appealed against the jail term and nearly a month after the country's International Crimes Tribunal sentenced him to 90 years in jail.
The tribunal judgment at that time, however, said Azam deserved the death penalty for the crimes he had committed siding with the Pakistani junta but his old age and physical condition forced the three-member panel to deliver the 90 years of jail term.
Azam, who has left deep emotional scars in the collective national psyche by engineering war-time atrocities in 1971, was found guilty of all five categories of crime – conspiracy, planning, incitement, complicity and murder. He had been charged with 61 counts of crimes in all five categories.
As many as three million people were killed, more than 200,000 women raped and an estimated 10 million people fled to India during the nine months of liberation war.
The aged but still strong Azam, currently treated as Jamaat's top philosopher and guide, was the Ameer or top leader of the party until 2000.
The High Court last month ordered Jamaat be stripped off its registration with the Election Commission under a separate legal process to debar it from contesting elections, a judgment which, however, did not banned it as a political party.