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Clashes in Bangladesh ahead of verdict on war crimes accused

Bangladesh on Sunday stepped up security as clashes erupted on the eve of a key verdict in the trial of a radical Islamist leader accused of ‘crimes against humanity’ during the 1971 liberation war against Pakistan.
91-year-old Ghulam Azam was the former chief of the fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami’s East Pakistan wing and provincial minister in 1971.

‘Tomorrow (Monday) is fixed for the verdict,’ Chairman of the three-member International Crimes Tribunal-1, Justice ATM Fazle Kabir said at the courtroom nearly three months after it wrapped up hearing on the charges against Azam.

The tribunal also ordered jail authorities to take necessary steps to ensure Azam’s appearance in court from at the time of the delivery of the judgment rejecting his counsel’s plea not to deliver the verdict in his presence.

The tribunal’s announcement of trial date immediately prompted the Jamaat to call a nationwide general strike fearing their leader could be convicted while suspected activists of the party assaulted three policemen and torched vehicles in the capital and also set off crude bombs in parts.  If found guilty, Azam could be sentenced to death. 
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