- Posted March 10, 2013 by
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Ghulam Azam: The mastermind planner of genocide happened in Bangladesh during 1971
The trial of former Jamaat-e-Islami ameer Ghulam Azam kicked off today with the opening statement of the prosecution at the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT)-1.
In the 142-page opening statement, Golam Arif Tipu, the chief prosecutor, said the Jamaat guru is a self-confessed criminal, as on May 13 he confessed before the court that he was a collaborator but pardoned by the then government.
"Ghulam Azam is the main culprit who helped the Pakistani forces to commit crimes against humanity during the War of Liberation. He managed to escape the trial for the last four decades", Tipu said.
He added that by this trial of Ghulam Azam, "Rule of Law" is being established. The veteran lawyer then expressed gratitude of the prosecution to the tribunal.
By forming Peace Committee, Razakar, Al-Badr, Al-Shams, he actively took part in the genocide during the liberation war, alleged the chief prosecutor in the opening statement.
"We want to prove that during liberation war Ghulam Azam collaborated with Pakistani troops, hatched conspiracy against the people of Bangladesh (then East Pakistan) and also encouraged the Pakistani occupation army to commit crimes against humanity", Tipu said.
He cannot escape the charges, he added.
While reading out the opening statement, prosecutor Sultan Mahmud said, Ghulam Azam by his all-out support towards the Pakistani occupation army has actively contributed in committing crimes against humanity. "He contributed the most in forming forces like Razakar, Al-Badr, Al-Shams and Peace Committee", Mahmud said.
On November 22, 1971, he fled to the then West Pakistan and formed a group named "East Pakistan Recovery Committee (Purbo Pakistan Punoruddhar Committee)". "In the mid 1973 he went to London and continued his anti-Bangladesh activities. He collected money from the middle-east countries in the name of rebuilding Mosque and Madrasas in Bangladesh and used it in his activities", the prosecutor said.
At the middle of today's proceedings Ghulam Azam was sent back to the jail by the tribunal granting a prayer of his counsels, as he was feeling sick.
Justice Nizamul Haque, chairman of the tribunal fixed June 24 for the deposition against Ghulam Azam after hearing the opening statement of the prosecution.
On May 13, the tribunal framed charges against Ghulam Azam, considered by many as the symbol of war crimes during the Liberation War, on five charges of crimes against humanity. The charges were based on 61 incidents of crimes against humanity. But after a long "political statement" Azam rejected the war crime charges calling them "politically motivated" as the tribunal asked him if he was "guilty or not".
"I don't think myself guilty," Azam said after the court asked him to reply to the question precisely as he began to make a "long political statement".
Now wheel chair-bound, Azam, 89, was the provincial minister
under the Pakistani junta in 1971 and was stripped of his Bangladeshi nationality after the independence of Bangladesh.
The prosecution earlier described him as the "key collaborator" of the then Pakistani junta alleging he masterminded the atrocities including genocides or mass murders of Bengalis during the Liberation War. He was arrested on January 11 of 2012.
Azam's party opposed Bangladesh's 1971 independence with many of its activists joining the auxiliary forces of the Pakistani troops while the prosecution brought 52 allegations of war crimes against Azam pressing the charges against him.
Azam was stripped off his nationality as he fled the country at the fag end of the Liberation War but got it back after a legal battle on his return home in 1978 when he also resumed his position as the "ameer" or head of the JI in independent Bangladesh.
In a recent television interview, he, however, denied the charges saying, "I did not do anything for which I will have to seek apology to the nation".
Eight high-profile war crime suspects were detained so far to face trial for crimes against humanity since Bangladesh constituted the tribunal in March last year along with the special investigation agency and a prosecution cell in line with the election pledges of the ruling Awami League to expose to trial the war criminals.
Six of the eight high-profile war crime suspects detained were stalwarts of Jamaat-e-Islami and they included incumbent chief of the party Matiur Rahman Nizami while the rest two were leaders of main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) lawmaker Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury and former minister Abdul Alim. If proved guilty the accused could be sentenced to death under the law.
Officially, three million people were killed in the war by the Pakistani army and their Bengali-speaking collaborators during the 1971 Liberation War.