(Jan. 17, 2012) The former head of the opposition Jamaat-e-Islami party in Bangladesh, Ghulam Azam, was arrested on January 11, 2012, after the International Criminal Tribunal in Bangladesh (ICT) refused to grant his request for anticipatory bail. Defense counsel had submitted a petition arguing that the accused should be granted the request due to his old age and ill-health.
Prosecutors allege that Azam committed crimes against humanity during Bangladesh's 1971 war of independence, when what was then known as West Pakistan conducted military operations against East Pakistan (modern day Bangladesh) to pacify the Bengali Nationalist movement. The accused faces trial for collaborating with the Pakistani army in that 1971 war, in which systematic acts of atrocity were allegedly committed against the Bengali population. Azam denies all charges, claiming that they are politically motivated. (Ghulam Azam Lands in Jail, BDNEWS24 (Jan. 11, 2012).)
Ghulam Azam is the sixth and highest-profile Islamist political figure to have been arrested since the current government established the ICT in 2010. (Constance Johnson, Bangladesh: War Crimes Trials Planned; ICC Ratified, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR(Mar. 29, 2010).) The three-judge panel set February 15, 2012, as the date on which to formally frame charges against the accused. The tribunal also ordered the prosecution to submit all documents to it, including copies of the formal charges, by January 12, 2012. (Julfikar Ali Manik & Ashutosh Sarkar, Ghulam Azam Lands in Jail, THE DAILY STAR (Jan. 12, 2012).)